cover image Light


Jane Breskin Zalben, . . Dutton, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47827-0

Zalben (Paths to Peace ) offers a creation story inspired by a 16th-century midrash (“a legend based on biblical text,” she explains in her author's note) told by the kabbalist rabbi Isaac Luria. In this pulsing-with-energy version, the Creator made the world and all its flora and fauna but, “as a finishing touch,” the Creator aims to paint everything with a special, extremely powerful light that is stored in a jar. But the plan goes awry when the jar shatters into shards and sparks of light scatter far and wide. The Creator makes people to help search for the shards—finding the light in every living thing and in themselves—and eventually make the world whole again. Zalben's take on this tale can be read as a metaphor for healing our troubled earth. In a note about her sweeping mixed-media illustrations she discusses imagery and technique (she uses crayon, acrylics, oils and even a bit of Windex on rough canvas). But even without any explanation, young readers will find plenty to pore over in the arresting spreads. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)