Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Let My People Go

Let My People Go! by Tilda Balsey. Illustrated by Ilene Richard. Kar-Ben, 2008 (978-0-8225-7241-1) $7.95

Every time I look at this book, I flash on Gene Wilder in "The Producers," reading the title Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden and ending with "Wow!" Really, what else is there to say about a rollicking rhyming romp with Moses and Pharaoh in Egypt? For sheer bad taste in approach to the subject matter the book is hard to beat, but add in jocular illustrations and ear-painful rhymes and it almost inspires admiration for its awfulness:

Then Moses spoke to mean Pharaoh,
"Our God says, 'Let my people go!"
Pharaoh shouted, "NO, NO, NO!"

A plague! A plague! A Plague!
Egyptians moaned and cried with dread.
To see their skin turn purply red
And nasty boils begin to spread.
But Pharaoh was an old hardhead.

The text and dialog is printed in different colored inks for use as Readers Theater and can't you just hear that read by halting, rhythm-impaired children's voices?

For those who might actually be interested in using this in a classroom, I should mention that it ends with Pharaoh letting the Jews leave, so the parting of the Red Sea and so forth isn't covered. Teachers who aren't familiar with the story will also want some supplementary material to explain the sections that might be obscure, such as the burning bush at the beginning. This is assuming you can bring yourself to get past the image of a distraught cartoon-style Egyptian waving a rattle over an empty cartoon-style Egyptian crib to illustrate the plague that brings death to every first-born son. I could not. (6-10)

Other blog reviews:
A Patchwork of Books

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Blogger MotherReader bligged...

Oh my. That sounds awful. But it reminds me of something funny...

My family usually goes to visit my aunt for the Seder. When the kids were young, she would have a sort of play of the Passover story with finger puppets that the kids and adults would control. The best part though, is that the puppets were characters from Sesame Street. I kid you not. Burt and Ernie were Hebrew slaves. Maybe Grover was Moses. The first year they were brought out, she introduced Big Bird as God. My hubby's response, "Somehow I always knew."

4/01/2008 10:06 AM  
Blogger web bligged...

Tall, talkative, believes in people invisible to others... yeah, works for me!

4/01/2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger Ilene Richard bligged...

It must be really easy to sit in front of your computer and critique other peoples hard work. I am completely amazed how you can write such an awful review considering the book "Let My People Go" is completely sold out. Thank goodness, there are people out there who think differently.
Personally, I was extremely pleased to see that Kar-Ben was willing to create a book that put a humorous spin on a rather dry topic. Life is too short to not have a sense of humor, and I think this book is very funny.
Also about your comment of the image "Death to the First Born." I would like to see you try to depict a death scene without it being too gruesome for children. Believe me,not a particularly easy task.
Anyway, I felt that I needed to put my 2 cents into the mix. Thanks for letting me do so.
Sincerely, Ilene Richard
The illustrator of "Let My People Go"

4/08/2008 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous bligged...

Unfortunately, what readers of our blogs, like Ms. Richard, need to understand, is that critiquing people's work is pretty much all that we do, so yes, it is somewhat easy. Publishers and authors contact us to read, review, and post our opinions on new books, whether good or bad. I'm sure everyone hopes that all books will be amazing, but unfortunately, sometimes they are not, such as with this particular book. I read and reviewed it as well and didn't care for it myself and that's ok! It doesn't mean that you, or I, or anyone else who didn't care for it is wrong, it's just our opinions. For all the people out there that loved the book, that's great too! Urgh, who would ever have thought that reviewing books on a blog would become a life stressor?

4/12/2008 1:06 PM  
Blogger web bligged...

Oh, gimme a link to your review and I will add it. I've been curious about other responses to this book and haven't seen any so far.

4/12/2008 8:06 PM  

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