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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