Leonid Gore’s artwork in this picture book is one of the most outstanding feats of illustration I’ve been a party to. It’s one of those unexplainable facts of publishing life that his accomplishment here went largely unacknowledged. But I urge every student and lover of picture book making to get a copy of this book and soak in how Gore’s pictures respond to and extend Sue Alexander’s lovely text. We throw the word “breathtaking” around when writing copy, but these pictures truly take your breath away. But it’s not just the art that astonishes. Sue Alexander conceived this poem-cum-cautionary tale on a visit to “the land of milk and honey” – a phrase most of us take as just a fragment of poetry from the bible. Our contemporary image of the land of Israel is a dry, brown place of rock and sand. But in this eloquent, ambitious picture book, author and illustrator show us that this was not always so.
“Oak and almond, fig and olive, terebinth and palm, acacia and pomegranate, willow and tamarisk. They grew wild when the land was called Canaan. They grew at the edge of the Great Sea, in the valleys and on the hillsides, along the shore of the Sea of Chinnereth, and on the oases of the wilderness.”
In ringing, dramatic prose, Alexander recounts the centuries of war and neglect that ravaged the country, as well as the hopeful human efforts that have more recently tried to set things right.
A gift of history, poetry, ecology, and art, in a package too lovely to miss.
Reviews and Awards
Chosen for the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators
Association of Jewish Libraries Notable Children’s Book of Jewish Content
Children’s Book Sense 76 selection, Summer 2001
Children’s Literature Council of Southern California Award for Distinguished Literary Quality
2005 California Collection
⋆ “Tracing the horticultural history of the land now known as Israel, Alexander delicately but powerfully implies a parallel between its trees of and the Jews who settled there. Beginning in 5000 BCE, she fleshes out a timeline that blends history and ecology to chronicle the cycle of bloom, destruction and renewal that has characterized this land over the centuries.... Alexander's poetic imagery ("fires sent twists of smoke into the air") and elegiac refrains ("And no new trees were planted") are heightened by Gore's resonant, haunting pairing of shepherds and prophets, soldiers and settlers with the graceful flow and sweep of branches and leaves. He plants Corinthian columns of a conquering nation side by side with tree trunks, one of many visual metaphors that hint at the interconnectedness of life. Profoundly satisfying.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review
⋆"Oak and almond, fig and olive," the names of trees make an incantation in this beautiful book, in which both the text and images are sinewy and delicate.... Gore's acrylic-and-pencil illustrations are brilliantly imagined.... Each image is filled with trees that reflect the story: the blood-red shadow of felled trees overlays images of war; trees are metamorphosed into Roman columns; trunks and limbs form dreamlike images of scholars, readers, mothers. A strong, exquisite, and magical choice.” - Booklist, starred review
Non-fiction Picture Book
Trim Size: 9" x 11"
Page Count: 48
Foreign Rights: Curtis Brown
Translation Rights: Curtis Brown
Rights Available? yes