The Golden Dreidle

Nachshon, Who was Afraid to Swim, by Deborah Bodin Cohen

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According to rabbinic lore, Nachshon was the first Israelite to enter the sea when Pharaoh's army pursued the fleeing slaves. Cohen and Jago offer a backstory to this legend, portraying Nachshon as a boy brave enough to defy his taskmasters yet unable to overcome his fear of water. Inspired by Moses, Nachshon discovers that redemption means being "free from slavery and free from his fears." Although the themes of self-actualization land rather heavily (Moses sounds like a disciple of Oprah), Cohen succeeds in transporting the Exodus story to a personal scale without robbing it of significance. Jago's highly stylized digital pictures are handsome and heartfelt: his gold-hued palette and mural-like compositions convey the heat and oppressiveness of Egypt, while his elaborately textured (and seemingly handmade) surfaces make the pages feel burnished by the forces of history and faith. Ages 3-8. Paperback, 32 pages, isbn 9780822587651

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