Miriam at the River

Kar-Ben. Feb. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781541544000; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781541544017.
PreS-Gr 3–Miriam takes readers with her as she heads to the Nile at night to set her infant brother adrift in a woven basket. Then she hides to watch as the basket floats past wading birds and a curious hippo until a beautiful young woman commands her handmaidens to rescue the boy. Miriam hurries away to tell her parents that the baby has a name (Moses) and a home. Miriam’s trust in God calms her fears, even as she envisions a massive parting of water that she cannot interpret. This glimpse into the future references her role as prophet and leader as recounted in Exodus and Midrash tales. Yolen provides details about Miriam and Moses in notes at the book’s end, but it is her own poetic language that brings Miriam’s story to life. Le’s evocative illustrations shimmer on the page with intense colors and patterns, chronicling Moses’s watery journey and Miriam’s careful observations. Since neither Yolen’s picture book text nor end notes explain Pharaoh’s decree, readers unaware of the original story may wonder why the baby had to be hidden in the first place.
VERDICT This engaging retelling of the early life of Miriam and Moses will be of particular interest to those familiar with the biblical story, while other readers will appreciate the courage of the young heroine.

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