THE ALWAYS PRAYER SHAWL.
Sheldon Oberman. Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
Honesdale (Penn.), Boyds Mills Press, 1993 (c1994). 32pp, cloth, $19.99.
Review by Jane Robinson.
Volume 22 Number 3.
This is a comforting story about the importance of tradition and the certainty of change. At the beginning, Adam is a young Jewish boy growing up in Russia in the early 1900s. When the revolution forces his parents to seek a better life in North America, Adam must leave his grandfather, whose name is also Adam, and all that is familiar and dear. The prayer shawl his grandfather gives him takes on tremendous significance and, as Adam grows up, marries and becomes a grandfather himself, the prayer shawl remains a constant in his life. Events come full circle all those years later when Adam's grandson assures him that their "always prayer shawl" and their name "Adam" will continue through the next generations.
The text is clear, simply written and concise. Sheldon Oberman, who has written for both children and adults, keeps the story on track and enables the reader to understand even complexities like the Russian Revolution and the passing of time. While it is obviously a story of great personal importance to Oberman, audience appreciation need not be limited to a study of Jewish culture. It will easily appeal to a wide range of readers and can be applied to many situations.
The water-color illustrations are an effective mix--a soft black and white to portray the past and muted colors to denote the present. Ted Lewin uses a realistic, portrait-like style, focusing on the main characters and their relationships. A gentle, pleasing rhythm, played out through both the words and the pictures in the story reflects the cyclical nature of life.
Grades 1 and up / Ages 6 and up
Jane Robinson is a former teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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