In Jerusalem, in the early 20th century, a little girl named Malka—"queen" in Hebrew—dreams of dressing up as Queen Esther. It is the festival of Purim, and all the kids are looking forward to celebrating in their costumes. But Malka's mother doesn't have time to prepare a Purim costume for her. Where can Malka get a costume in time for the holiday?
"This delightful picture book provides a window on Israeli culture as an angry little girl stomps off from home when her mother has no time to make her desired Purim costume. Malka (queen in Hebrew) is determined to be Esther at the holiday dressed in golden threads. She angrily pounds through Jerusalem with a heart as cold and grey as the weather. She stumbles into a courtyard where a sculptor works and meets a pivotal historical person, Boris Schatz, the Russian immigrant who founded the first art school in Jerusalem. He leads her through the building introducing her to student artists of all kinds who collaborate on her outfit: weavers, goldsmiths, sculptors, and painters. The art school is named for Bezalel, the artist in the Tanach who designed the Mishkan (though the text incorrectly gives him credit for designing the Temple). The story’s text does not set the time, but in the opening picture her mother is hanging laundry on a line. The flap notes the tale is early 20th century, while the endnote reveals Schatz founded the still active school in 1906. This lighthearted romp brings interesting information about the development of cultural life in Israel in a seamless blend of fact and fiction supported by humorous art. The authors/illustrator are the same team that brought us the equally delightful A Concert in the Sand about the founding of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra." - Association of Jewish Libraries —Other Print
"Malka is disappointed that her mother doesn't have time to make her a Purim costume, but her mother thinks she’s now old enough to make her own. Malka sadly walks through the streets of Jerusalem. She can sense the city’s excitement for the holiday, but struggles to feel excited herself. How can she represent beautiful Queen Esther on Purim without her mother's expert help?
As Malka wanders through the city, she discovers the magic of Jerusalem. She meets a man named Boris who introduces her to a group of weavers who fashion her a spectacular robe with golden threads. He then finds her a group of goldsmiths who make her a sparkling crown and scepter.
Malka learns that she has entered the Bezalel art school where students learn to sculpt, draw, weave, and create a variety of crafts. The school was named after the artist mentioned in the Bible who helped design the original Temple in Jerusalem. The art students ask Malka if they can paint pictures of her wearing her special new Queen Esther costume. She sits regally as they paint her portrait in a variety of styles. She now feels like an actual malka, a real queen, and is ready to celebrate Purim.
An author's note tells the story of the real-life Boris Schatz who founded Bezalel Academy in 1906. The school is still training artists today.
As befits a story about art and artists, the book is charmingly illustrated in subtle color and will give readers a good feel for Jerusalem.
Recommended for ages 3 to 8." - Jewish Book Council —Website
Tami Shem-Tov was born in Kiryat Ono, Israel, and lives in Tel Aviv. She teaches creative writing at the University of Haifa. Her previous children's books have won many awards, including an Andersen Honor and the Bialik Prize. Rachella Sandbank is the children's and young adult books editor at Keter Books, one of the leading publishing houses in Israel. She lives in Hod HaSharon, Israel. Illustrator and animation director Avi Ofer creates projects for a variety of media, including book and editorial illustration as well as direction of animated films. He has exhibited in art shows and screened in festivals around the world. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.