Saturday, February 04, 2017

Language of Angels

Language of Angels. Richard Michelson. 2017. Charlesbridge. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once there was a child without a friend. Two boys his age lived nearby, but they spoke Yiddish. In the morning they said "guten tog" to each other.

Premise/plot: Set in Jerusalem in the late nineteenth century, Language of Angels is a picture book about the reinvention of an ancient language: Hebrew. Ben-Zion's father Eliezer wanted his son to only speak Hebrew. The problem was no one spoke it as a living language, a common, everyday language. What Hebrew was known were the formal holy prayers that had been passed down for ages. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda zealously sought to bring back a language starting in his own home and then spreading elsewhere. It was a big dream, but this is a happy story! Teachers can be incredibly passionate and determined!

Readers see how Hebrew grew as a living language once more. Since new words had not been added in almost eighteen hundred years, it had some catching up to do! But this process was thoughtful, deliberate, and logical. I also imagine it was fun! The book says children helped him in this process.

Also of note, it was children not adults he was interested in teaching!

My thoughts: I really loved this picture book for older readers. The book is well researched; it includes an author's note providing much more information. The story has a personal touch. The family was fascinating in my opinion! There are enough details to make it interesting and compelling, but not in a dreary, fact heavy way.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10  

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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