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The Mountain Jews and the Mirror
Cover of The Mountain Jews and the Mirror
The Mountain Jews and the Mirror
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Yosef and Estrella have spent their whole lives in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. When they move to the city, they face a strange, unfamiliar world. Will their love survive the surprises of their new home? A funny and charming folktale-like story of mistaken identities.

Yosef and Estrella have spent their whole lives in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. When they move to the city, they face a strange, unfamiliar world. Will their love survive the surprises of their new home? A funny and charming folktale-like story of mistaken identities.

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    2 - 3

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About the Author-
  • Ruchama King Feuerman is the author of two adult novels, Seven Blessings and In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist. This is her first children's book. She lives in Passaic, New Jersey.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 10, 2015
    Although this story is set in Morocco, it feels as though it’s been transplanted from Chelm, the legendary village of fools from Jewish folklore. Yosef and Estrella are beautiful newlyweds who have moved from their remote village in the Atlas Mountains to Casablanca in search of opportunity. But when well-meaning relatives install a large mirrored wardrobe in their apartment, the result is nothing but tsuris: alone and seeing their reflections for the first time, Yosef and Estrella both become convinced that the other has taken another, more gorgeous beloved. Adult author Feurerman, in her children’s book debut, and artists Kosec and Calderon never quite figure out how to make the couple’s vulnerability and naiveté endearing; readers may find themselves thinking that anyone who lives in those mountains should be made of tougher stuff (a notable exception is one scene where Estrella musters outrage at Yosef’s supposed infidelity). Even so, the illustrations bring alive the bustle of Casablanca’s narrow streets, and the couple’s expressive eyes almost dare the audience not to feel at least a smidgen of empathy. Ages 5–9.

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2016

    K-Gr 2-Newlyweds Estrella and Yosef journey from their remote village in the Atlas Mountains to the big city of Casablanca. Relatives help them to set up a small apartment and give Yosef a job selling carpets in the family's shop. After he leaves for his first day of work, Estrella walks to the market. When she returns to her new apartment, she is shocked to see a strange, beautiful woman inside. She runs screaming out of the house, distraught that her husband has taken another wife. Neighbors instruct her to go to the rabbi for advice. When Yosef returns home from work and enters the apartment, he is surprised to see a handsome man standing in the middle of the room. Assuming that his wife has found another husband, he, too, rushes to the rabbi for advice. Dumfounded by these two reports, the rabbi goes to the apartment to see for himself. When he opens the door, he sees another rabbi standing in the apartment. Finally, the neighbors figure out what is going on. While Estrella and Yosef were out, Estrella's cousins had brought a wardrobe with a mirror to the apartment as a gift for the couple. Having never seen a mirror, Estrella, Yosef, and even the rabbi mistake their own reflections for someone else. Once everything is cleared up, the young couple live happily ever after. Stylized acrylic illustrations in browns and jewel tones depict the exotic setting, clothing, and architecture of 19th- or early 20th-century Morocco. Readers may delight in the fact that they are able to solve the mystery before the rabbi. However, the slight story fails to provide readers with any historical context or insight into the Jewish community of Casablanca. VERDICT An additional purchase.-Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2015
    Newly married Yosef and Estrella move from a small Moroccan mountain village to Casablanca so that Yosef can earn a living. Life in the big city is diametrically different from life in the Atlas Mountains. Relatives provide work for him, living quarters, furnishings, including a mirrored wardrobe. This last causes great anxiety for the bridal pair. Each sees other, handsomer, more beautiful, mate-stealing intruders in the mirror's misread reflection-new spouses far superior to innocent "mountain Jews." The rabbi is summoned, but he, also an innocent, sees the reflection of an unknown old man, full of wisdom. Who are these other people? This is the central mystery and moral of the tale. Though shaped like a folk tale, the story appears to be an original one, but it begs questions. What are mountain Jews? Are they like the Chelmites? Why does a mirror baffle them so? Illustrations add to the confusion, as features swing between flat shapes and careful shadings. Is the kindly, elfish-looking rabbi really the same person as the stoic, dour reflection in the following double-page spread-and the goofy rabbi caricature in the final one? Though the illustrations are populated by characters dressed in timeless North African cloaks and gowns, they go no further to establish a specific time or setting. As a folklorish tale-almost an extended anecdote-the brief telling leaves many questions for readers, and neither the dark, heavy illustrations nor the text provides answers. (Picture book. 4-8)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    November 15, 2015
    Grades K-2 With the old-fashioned feel of a folktale, this story about a young couple from the mountains of Morocco offers readers a sweet lesson in having faith in those they love. When newlyweds Yosef and Estrella move from their small village to the city, they are in for a few surprises. One afternoon shortly after their arrival, Estrella returns from the market to find a beautiful young woman in their home. Convinced her husband has taken a new, more attractive wife, she runs to the rabbi for advice. That same day, Yosef finds a handsome man in the house, who can only be a husband to replace him. He, too, seeks out the rabbi, who senses something is amiss. A visit to the couple's home reveals all to be a comical misunderstanding, but one that fortifies their love for each other. Beautiful acrylic paintings in crimson, olive, fig, and umber illustrate the tale, with particular care given to the couple's expressions as they navigate their emotions and new life together.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • Jewish Book Council

    "This original folk story reads like a Sephardic Chelm-like tale set in Morocco. The story centers on Estrella (named for the author's own grandmother from Casablanca) and her newlywed husband. When the village couple moves to the city, they quickly become overwhelmed by their new environment: the beautiful people, the size of their apartment, the excess in furniture. Conflict rises when Estrella and her husband separately mistake themselves in the wardrobe mirror for their perceived spouse's new love interest. All too soon even the rabbi is threatened by the man reflected back at him. The story, humorous at times, with its deep, dark-toned traditional North African illustrations, ends a bit melodramatically when the newlyweds confirm their desire for each other. The lesson can be one of many, including that sometimes we shouldn't be so quick to judge the person staring back at us in the mirror!" — Jewish Book Council

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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The Mountain Jews and the Mirror
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