cover image The Mysterious Visitor: Stories of the Prophet Elijah

The Mysterious Visitor: Stories of the Prophet Elijah

Nina Jaffe, Elivia Savadier. Scholastic, $19.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-590-48422-0

Many people know the Jewish tradition of setting a place-replete with a special goblet of wine-at the Passover Seder table for the prophet Elijah. But this versatile messenger from heaven is a player in several other Jewish rituals and appears in many other Jewish folktales that young readers may not be familiar with. The team that collaborated on The Uninvited Guest and Other Jewish Holiday Tales now delivers a collection of eight engaging tales that focuses on the many guises of the holy figure of Elijah. Jaffe's settings range from ancient Egypt to Europe during the Crusades to near-contemporary Brooklyn, and in every case Elijah has important lessons of faith and morality to impart. In ""The Bear in the Forest,"" for example, a couple mistreats a beggar (not recognizing him as a Elijah) who has come to welcome their new baby. As punishment, the parents suffer as their son turns into a bear and goes to live in the woods. In a less obvious role, the prophet shines in the heart of a man who shares his faith and fortune with a newly immigrated family in the story ""Where Is Elijah?"" Savadier's full-page, predominantly joyful pencil-and-watercolor works open each story and often capture the most striking elements of Jaffe's text. Jaffe's thoughtful introduction and background information on the stories, as well as a glossary and a bibliography are all bonuses that are sure to make this a treasured family volume. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)