THE TREE JUMPED, THE RIVER RAN BACKWARDS by Lawrence Bush
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2,000 Year-Old Jewish Stories for Kids
Retold and Illustrated by Lawrence Bush
“Children’s stories from the ancient Jewish Talmud? For many years I’ve been asking, Why not? How is the 2,000-year-old tale of Rabbi Akiva and his beloved Rachel any less romantic than the 400-year-old fairytale of Sleeping Beauty and her Prince? How is an argument that causes a tree to jump out of the ground and a river to run backwards any less magical than a spell that turns Cinderella’s pumpkin into a stagecoach? With just a bit of retelling, the stories of the Talmud could turn into exciting literature for kids — and help them and the adults in their lives share rich discussions about life’s deep questions.” —From the author's Introduction
The Talmud — which has been preserved to our day in two different versions — is the key repository of the laws, legends, stories, and philosophical insights that have shaped and informed Judaism for nearly two millennia. Most modern people, however, think of this religious literature as musty and obsolete, complicated and arcane — a literature for old men, certainly not for children.
In fact, the Talmud is like handwritten version of the Internet, featuring freewheeling discussions of countless subjects, and filled with colorful tales. These include stories about the lives of the
Talmudic teachers themselves, described with wonderful detail and insight. In "The Tree Jumped, the River Ran Backwards," Jewish Currents editor Lawrence Bush has selected eighteen of these stories, lent them a fairytale aura and some very modern twists, and shaped them into thoughtful, delightful children’s book.