Review: Mrs. Noah's Doves

Mrs. Noah's Doves

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Alida Massari

Kar-Ben Publishing, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Linda Elovitz Marshall

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In harmonious, poetic language, author Jane Yolen engages readers with kindly Mrs. Noah who cares for injured birds – “ravens and robins, eagles and eiders, cockatoos and crows” and her favorite, the doves – in much the same way a loving grandmother might care for her grandchildren. And when, as we knew would happen, the rains come, Mrs. Noah moves the bird cages higher and higher, caring for the birds, keeping them dry. Still, the waters rise. Mrs. Noah asks Mr. Noah for help. With assurances from Mr. Noah that God has told him what to do, Noah’s family builds a boat – “a floating zoo” – to keep themselves, the birds, and the animals (which arrive two-by-two) safe from flooding waters. At last, the rains cease. Mrs. Noah releases her birds to search for dry land. But, the ravens do not return. Nor do the terns. Or the gulls. Finally, Mrs. Noah releases the doves – her “gray angels” – who return to build a nest and start the cycle of life anew. Poignant illustrations of animals and by Alida Massari add softness, depth, and additional warmth to this powerful retelling of a familiar story. Mr. and Mrs. Noah are portrayed with long, flowing hair and features that may, perhaps, accurately represent people who lived long ago in the “Fertile Crescent” of Mesopotamia - the area that is now Iraq and where many of humankind's inventions may have been inspired.

Readers will fall in love with Mrs. Noah and her doves in this heartwarming retelling of the age-old story of destruction, rebirth, and hope. Using Mrs. Noah as the protagonist, author Jane Yolen gives a new perspective to this quintessentially Jewish story. Mrs. Noah, in her warm and sensitive way, models the all-important mitzvah of caring for the sick. And, in the end, there is hope! A must for all libraries…and homes.

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Reviewer Linda Elovitz Marshall, award-winning author of almost two dozen fiction and non-fiction picture books, has received Sydney Taylor Notable honors for "THE PASSOVER LAMB" (Random House) and "THE POLIO PIONEER: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine" (Knopf Books for Young Readers). Former preschool teacher, parenting educator, and bookstore owner, she is all-but-dissertation for her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. Linda and her husband raised their four children and a small flock of sheep in New York's Hudson River Valley. They now divide their time between NYC, the Adirondacks, and visiting family. Linda's favorite activities include swimming and eating ice cream.