Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story
Kimmel, Eric A. 2008. THE MYSTERIOUS GUESTS: A SUKKOT STORY. Ill. by Katya Krenina. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823418930 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]
Eric A. Kimmel’s portrayal of a traditional Jewish feast is just as relevant today as it was in ancient Israel when the story takes place. Two brothers are preparing to celebrate the harvest festival of Sukkot, although in very different ways. Eben, the wealthier brother, provides the bare minimum for his unwelcome guests. His more generous, but poorer, brother Ezra gladly shares all he has with his surprise visitors. When the identities of the mysterious guests are revealed, both brothers earn their just rewards.
Kimmel’s rich and lyrical language matches Katya Krenina’s elaborate acrylic illustrations. Krenina’s artwork appears to be softly lit by candlelight, which greatly enhances the mood of the story. The characters’ facial expressions not only reveal their true motivations, but also draw readers into the tale. This picture book is a beautiful work of art worthy of this timeless story praising those generous in heart.
While this is a Jewish story, adults can feel comfortable sharing this book with all children, regardless of religious background. Kimmel’s tale focuses on the universal themes of generosity and hospitality instead of religious doctrine. This book would make a nice accompaniment to Thanksgiving lessons.
Other traditional literature books for children by Eric A. Kimmel and Katya Krenina:
THE BIRDS’ GIFT: A UKRAINIAN EASTER STORY. ISBN 9780823413843
THE CASTLE OF THE CATS. ISBN 9780823415656
THE MAGIC DREIDELS: A HANUKKAH STORY. ISBN 9780823412563
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird