Review: The Unfinished Corner
The Unfinished Corner
by Dani Colman, illustrated by Rachel Petrovicz
WonderboundCategory: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Stacy Nockowitz
Buy at Bookshop.org
Five days before her bat mitzvah, Miriam boards a bus with her friends Avi and David -- and her frenemy Judith -- bound for Washington, D.C. But the rabbi driving the bus has other plans for the kids. Instead of taking them on their “tikkun olam” outreach trip, Rabbi Yehudi (the cleverly disguised angel Ma’alchiel of the Ishim) brings the kids to a mysterious desert-like realm and charges them with the task of flushing out all the world’s evil beings and creatures. No problem, right? Thus begins a journey for the four children to find the unfinished corner of the universe, a small area that Hashem left unfinished when the world was created. The only way that Miriam and her friends can carry out the angel’s directive is to “finish” the unfinished corner. This is the unique premise of Dani Colman’s graphic novel The Unfinished Corner. Miriam’s story is the surface layer of the book, but beneath, Colman weaves in a variety of Jewish myths and folklore. The strength of the book lies in the robust characterization of the four kids and their friendships. Each has his or her own strength that they bring to the group, and reading about them overcoming trauma from their pasts more than makes up for the meager way that the various folk tales are threaded together. The illustrations are excellent, lushly colored and expressive.
The Unfinished Corner is a well-researched graphic novel, full of little-told Jewish tales. The stories that Colman includes are fascinating, as the kids meet up with Moses’s sister Miriam, the Lion of Judah, gangs of Nephilim, the Golem of Prague, and even Lilith, before finally travelling to the unfinished corner of the universe. I’m not sure more traditional Jews will like the way Miriam and her friends remake the unfinished corner into a kind of a supernatural all-inclusive resort, but the book is spot on in the way it connects with its intended audience. The Unfinished Corner will make a fun addition to synagogue libraries looking for graphic novels.
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