Nicanor’s Gate

Kar-Ben. Aug. 2020. 24p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781541574526.
PreS-Gr 2–A Talmudic story of a wealthy man who commissioned a famous gate for the second temple in Jerusalem is brought to life with beautiful new illustrations. Nicanor is a wealthy man, unhappy that the temple in Jerusalem is in disrepair, and then delighted when King Herod requests contributions to rebuild it. Nicanor commissions a beautifully wrought set of doors. Once they are completed, he sets sail to deliver them; but as they draw close, a storm kicks up, forcing the crew to push one of the heavy doors overboard. They are about to do the same to the second door when Nicanor throws himself upon it. The storm ceases, the boat docks, and the remaining door is unloaded. Nicanor is bereft until the lost door, despite its weight, washes ashore.The text is concise and clear, while the illustrations have a stylized, slightly still feel reminiscent of ancient art. Their textured backgrounds seem painted on wood, and the colors are in primarily earth tones, blues, and pinks. The storm is depicted in dark blues with curly textured waves that seem to rise up off the page. The scenes provide dramatic contrast for the straightforward text, clearly accessible to young readers.
VERDICT Whether as folktale, Talmudic retelling, or a preschool course in miracles, this book will find a home in many school and public collections.

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