When the Beginning Began: Stories about God, the Creatures, and Us

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9780152012380: When the Beginning Began: Stories about God, the Creatures, and Us

â This book is astonishing, daring, compelling, and confirms Lesterâ s preeminence among storytellers.â --Jane Yolen

If we werenâ t there, how can we really know how the world began? Could it be that God even made a mistake or two when creating the world? Using Jewish legend and his own translations from the Book of Genesis, master storyteller Julius Lester has created a collection of Bible stories like no other. Written especially for readers who might not make their way to the stories of the Bible otherwise, these tales are a welcome opening to a glorious world that will touch the spirit of all readers--no matter what religion guides them.

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About the Author:

JULIUS LESTER is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. He writes and teaches in western Massachusetts.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-8-The continuing practice of midrash Aggadah-unrestrained narrative reflection on canonical Torah-is evidence of a living faith. Fundamentalist Christians may well be shocked by the liberties Lester takes with the God of Genesis: at various times he/she is black, female, embarrassed, uncertain, and wrong. But the point of these surprises is to make readers think afresh about the familiar stories. The reworkings stress the importance of gratitude for what we have, the role of error in the divine plan, the playfulness of creativity, the universality of human weakness, and the limitlessness of divine love. Adam's first mate, Lilith (the woman God makes from clay, in Genesis B), walks out when Adam refuses to compromise; God decides that women will have to be smarter than men. Elements from Jewish lore-the Re'em, Shamir, Ziz, Tehom, the importance of Torah-coexist with an angel called Moe the Angel of Bagels (but the cuteness quotient is tolerable). Satan is distinct from the Edenic Snake. The chapters on the Fall by themselves are worth the price of admission. In keeping with Jewish tradition, sin does not lie in disobedience but in the failure to accept responsibility; sexuality is a divine gift, a consolation for exile. In these later chapters, Lester's midrash is especially rich and thought-provoking. Lisker provides a full-page oil painting to accompany each entry; her images are as inventive and vibrant as the stories she illustrates. The source notes and bibliography are helpful.
Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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