Review: A Beautiful World

A Beautiful World

by Yael Gover, illustrated by Paul Kor, translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffman

Green Bean Books (first published in Israel in 2003 by Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel J. Fremmer

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With upbeat text perfectly complemented by a cheerful palette and childlike illustrations, A Beautiful World takes us through the creation story. A nameless narrator - apparently Hashem - begins with a black page and adds light and color, water and land, plants and animals, and so on, until the world is almost complete. What is missing? Why, you, the reader! Just as Hashem invites us to be partners in creation, the narrator invites the reader to be a partner in enjoying the world - and reading this book! The final page has a mirror on it so the child reader can see herself. Young children love seeing themselves in the mirror, so that would certainly add to the fun!

I had to read A Beautiful World more than once to realize that it does not contain any explicit Jewish content other than following the order of the creation story in the Torah - no Hebrew words (although it was originally written in Hebrew, none of the Hebrew was retained in the translation), no explicit reference to G-d, and no reference to Shabbat at the end of creation - but it still feels very Jewish. The idea of being partners in creation with Hashem is, of course, a Jewish one. Is this enough to qualify it for the Sydney Taylor award? I’m not sure.

Whether it qualifies for a formal award or not, A Beautiful World is sure to be a favorite of young children - and their parents. 

Illustration Editor Dena Bach adds: The upbeat text is perfectly complemented by a cheerful palette and childlike illustrations, reminiscent of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

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Reviewer Rachel J. Fremmer is a lawyer-turned-elementary-school librarian. She is a native New Yorker and lives there with her husband and two daughters, ages 18 and 15, who are rapidly outgrowing her area of book expertise. She is continually inspired by the city even though apartment living means she is running out of room for her picture book collection. She was selected by PJ Library for their inaugural Picture Book Summer Camp for Emerging Writers. When she is not reading or writing, she is baking or doing crossword puzzles.