Review: Queen Vashti's Comfy Pants

Queen Vashti's Comfy Pants

by Leah Rachel Berkowitz, illustrated by Ruth Bennett

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House)

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Sandy Wasserman

In perfect rhyme the reader learns about the lesser-known Purim heroine, Queen Vashti!

She’s enjoying a fine afternoon with her friends, wearing not-fancy clothes, not ready to perform for the king, but playing cards, drinking tea, and noshing - wearing ‘comfy pants!’ This book is hilarious! Not irreverent, just filled with chutzpah! When the king summons her to dance, assuming she’’ll come just because of his directive - well no! Vashti is not having any of it! Not even when his messenger tries to drag her to entertain, does she budge! - This book is all about a woman’s right to say “NO!” for anything! The illustrations are to die for, with their colorful, whimsical Persian harem feel… And Vashti’s harem-of-friends! They are one-solid-sisterhood of “NO!” She’s got her chevreh, her personal loyal supporters, women in comfy pants with signs held aloft, readying for a rally! This loyal group with skin tones of all complexions and even one sister in a wheelchair. (This book has everything covered!) When it’s apparent that the king is not happy, well, then it’s time to go! For Vashti and the sisterhood to ‘scram!’ To leave the palace, bags packed with all their belongings including their comfy pants, with smiles on their faces, to go off and conquer the world.

This is a fabulous Purim story with a twist! We’re never told in the Megillah what happens to Vashti. This story is as good as any midrash. Little girls, and boys as well, grow up often knowing only about Queen Esther. This Purim story is a winner!

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Sandy Wasserman is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years, for the most part with Gifted children. Currently her grandchildren inspire many of her stories. She loves to swim, read, travel, and explore. Sandy is a member of SCBWI, LICWI and the LI Association of Jewish Librarians. Her published book, The Sun's Special Blessing [Pitspopany] enjoyed its special year in 2009 in the US and Israel.