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Journeys with Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet

by Barbara Diamond  Goldin
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Published by Gulliver Books / Harcourt, Brace, 1999
96 pages
ISBN: 0-15-200445-9

Ages 7 - 14

(Ages 7-14) Elijah the Prophet is significant to Jews around the world all year round. This famous prophet is also important in the writings and folklore of Christianity and Islam. Elijah stories have roots in numerous locations around the globe and during many periods of human history. Barbara Diamond Goldin's collection of eight Elijah tales backed by evidence of scholarly sources and interpreted in lay language for children clarifies and interprets Elijah's universality and timelessness. Settings for these tales range from North Africa where during the 3rd century C.E. Elijah meets Rabbi Joshua; Argentina in which the 19th century farmers Julio and Mina encounter the prophet; to the 20th century community of Yemenite Jews in Israel. Goldin retells Elijah tales about weavers in 12th century Persia, three Jewish brothers in 17th century Curaçao, a 3rd century rabbi in Babylonia, a 17th century Jewish family in China, and a late 19th century rabbi in eastern Europe. Varying in emotional tone and humor, the tales come to life to contemporary young readers and families because of Jerry Pinkney's extraordinary illustrations done with graphite, colored pencil, pastel and watercolor. Rarely has any artist so completely taken measure of the time, place, culture, and people represented to illustrate a children's book. Pinkney is famous for his attention to historical detail, his fascination with pattern, and his skill at depicting flora and fauna. In 26 illustrations, some of which are double-page spreads, Pinkney has surpassed even himself in his superb renderings of people from eight different times, places and cultures. His art perfectly complements Goldin's eight Elijah tales, because he, too, understands Elijah as a universal symbol of compassion and hope. According to Goldin, Elijah "stands for what is just and good in the world. He is a helper and friend to those in need, a teacher of many lessons, a master of disguises and surprises. He is immortal, able to appear at any time, in any place, to any person." Pinkney visually communicates all this, and he also subtly suggests these times by painting one contemporary home with an open door. This pleasing volume represents sheer excellence in all respects, promising deep satisfaction for all whose figurative doors are open to everything it offers. CCBC categories: Folklore, Mythology and Traditional Literature; Seasons and Celebrations.(GMK; Mar 29)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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