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The Story of Queen Esther
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Grade 2–5—This is a serviceable retelling of the biblical story of the Jewish queen of ancient Persia who saved her people from the plotting of the king's evil vizier, Haman. The events in the original tale are rather convoluted; while they are streamlined here, the story remains somewhat disjointed. The characters play their traditional roles without much development, and an atmosphere of solemnity pervades the story. The Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the story of Queen Esther, is mentioned on the final spread without further explanation. The illustrations are the highlight of the book. Stylized, dreamy pastel spreads sing with deep colour. Esther, whose name means "star," is portrayed with a moon and stars floating in her long dark hair, emphasising her otherworldly beauty. The dignified pictures support the solemn tone of the text. While Rita Golden Gelman's Queen Esther Saves Her People (Scholastic, 1998) and Mordicai Gerstein's Queen Esther the Morning Star (S & S, 2000) offer more humour and character development, and slightly more coherent storytelling, this version will be a welcome addition.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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Kirkus Reviews -The classic biblical story . . . is told with lucid intrigue, painting a picture of an evil rogue outwitted by the wisdom and courage of a loving Queen. Multiple scenes across full-page spreads, done in deep pastel colors of blues, purples and reds, portray an assortment of tall, handsome characters with lean, pointy-chinned faces, long, flowing hair and dark skin. A well-composed and aesthetic interpretation for the younger set.-- Publishers Weekly -Koralek's telling is admirably brisk and dramatic, and she keeps sight of the core message: that Esther's faith and sense of responsibility give her the courage to do the right thing. Holderness's saturated, jewel-tone pastels, geometric lines and subtle patterning successfully meld once-upon-a-time with an exotic Far East. She also gives Esther star-studded raven tresses that reach all the way down to her calves--which, as any female member of the target audience will attest, is totally awesome.- School Library Journal -The illustrations are the highlight of the book. Stylized, dreamy pastel spreads sing with deep color. Esther, whose name means 'star, ' is portrayed with a moon and stars floating in her long dark hair, emphasizing her otherworldly beauty.- Booklist -. . . the nicely told story mostly follows the original and is made more child friendly by Holderness' chalky pastel illustrations. Incorporating celestial symbols, including stars and moons, as well as religious images such as Stars of David, the artwork also captures the Persian sensibility of the original tale. Unlike other picture-book versions of Esther's life, Koralek focuses on the queen herself rather than tying her story to the holiday, which adds appeal.-

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