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Showing posts with label The Story of Queen Esther. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Story of Queen Esther. Show all posts

7.07.2011

The Story of Queen Esther (2009)

Retold by Jenny Koralek

Illustrated by Grizelda Holderness

Pastels

Text set in Angie

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

After I indexed Raisel's Riddle last week, which uses the Festival of Purim as its backdrop, I thought it would be a great idea to refresh myself with the story of Esther.

It's a story which seems the inversion of most other tales, as it begins with the typical Happily Ever After part and then unravels from there. A rich and powerful king named Ahasuerus chooses for himself the most beautiful woman in his kingdom to be his wife. Her name is Esther, and Grizelda has indeed made her very beautiful. Her hair is long and black, inexplicably filled with the stars and the moon. She seems very happy, with no misgivings, and spends her time being bathed and prepared for the wedding. All is well and good, except... she's a Jew! D'oh!

I love how Grizelda illustrates the story, with many pages containing several scenes happening concurrently. In one spread of the king's castle, we see men snickering and plotting murderously in an upper window of the tower. In two other windows, Mordecai and Esther communicate by carrier pigeon, while on the castle roof, the King hands his servant Haman his royal ring of command.

It is a strange scene, I think, when Haman suggests to the King, "Your Majesty, the Jews do not obey some of your laws. Why don't you get rid of them?"

"Do what you like with them," is the King's lackadaisical response.

Later, we are meant to side with the King when, learning of the plot to kill the Jews, says with feigned innocence, "By whose order? Who would do such a terrible thing?"

Give me a break, King Ahasuerus. What exactly did you think was going to happen when you agreed with Haman in getting rid of the Jews? It's an irony which the story does not explore. All that matters is that Haman is executed while his weeping wife watches, Esther is one beautiful lady and, "to this day, a noisy, happy feast, the Feast of Purim, is held every year to remember how Queen Esther saved the lives of her people."

I've read some other reviews of this book, and they all agree that it is pretty liberal with its interpretation of the actual Biblical story, oversimplifying and changing several details. Ah well, I guess I'll have to find and read other versions!
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Click here for more versions of the Queen Esther story!
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Click here for more Biblical Stories from the Old Testament!
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Click here for Jewish folktales!
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