cover image Clouds of Glory: Legends and Stories about Bible Times

Clouds of Glory: Legends and Stories about Bible Times

Gregory Maguire, Miriam Chaikin. Clarion Books, $19 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-395-74654-7

Chaikin introduces a little-known body of literature known as Midrash in this collection of stories rooted in Bible text. Midrash is translated from Hebrew as ""to search and explain,"" and Chaikin explains that these stories have been developed by rabbis throughout history to answer the often puzzling questions raised by the Bible. Rabbis have embellished midrashim with elements of folktales and other traditional storytelling forms to make them lively and interesting. Accessible retellings of how the archangel Satan was banished from Heaven and how the angels assisted the Holy One in creating humans from ""earth from the four corners of the world"" cast new light on the book of Genesis, for example. While some readers may at first be uneasy with these perspectives, they will soon begin to see how each tale fits the definition of midrash: it must answer a question raised by the Bible and be based on biblical teachings. The 21 chapters make the book easy to digest in small doses, perhaps as a family read-aloud. Frampton's crisp, richly colored woodcuts have an ancient, reverential quality that complements the dramatic subject matter. Readers who go along on Chaikin's fascinating journey will not be disappointed. Ages 9-up. (Mar.)