cover image The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale

Eric A. Kimmel, illus. by Jill Weber, Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2223-4

Having adeptly tackled the Rosh Hashanah story of the rabbi of Nemirov in Even Higher! (2009), Kimmel and Weber turn their considerable talents to the Book of Esther and its corresponding Jewish holiday. They hew closely to the original, with the curious exception of making Esther a "natural beauty" who eschews the cosmetics and bling of the harem—a choice that drains the heroine of any fashionista appeal and seems at odds with the beloved Purim tradition of dressing up in gaudy costume. That aside, this is a sturdy retelling with no shortage of action and a few dashes of humor. As always, Kimmel is an effortless storyteller, his learnedness leavened with an expert sense of pacing for young audiences—even the book's longer passages feel like they're exactly the right length. In vibrant mixed-media paintings, Weber proves once again that she's an excellent match for this unflashy master. Her pictures combine a compositional sophistication with a presentational, almost naïf sense of drama that evokes murals and pageants. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)