On One Foot

illus. by Nuria Balaguer. 32p. Kar-Ben. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467778428; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781467778473; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9781467796088.
K-Gr 2—This is the story of a young man who challenges the great sage Rabbi Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel cleverly responds, "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you." That is the whole Torah; "the rest is just comments and explanations." This picture book, while not crediting its Talmudic source, is an expansion of that incident, offering motivation for the odd request and showing the student experiencing reciprocal behaviors during his quest for the perfect teacher. The pacing and simple language are well suited to a young audience, and the message is clear without feeling didactic. The collage illustrations are intriguing, if a bit creepy. The characters' noses are covered in Hebrew text, and their hands are photographs of real hands attached to skinny, stretched-out arms. The calm palette and spacious layout somewhat counteract the eerie effect. Bolded text makes the dialogue stand out.
VERDICT This excellent introduction to the Golden Rule can be used successfully with Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. Combine with Ilene Cooper's The Golden Rule for a more multicultural approach and Laurie Keller's Do unto Otters for a more playful version.

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