Review: Doña Gracia Saved Worlds

Doña Gracia Saved Worlds

by Bonni Goldberg, illustrated by Alida Massari

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Sydney Taylor Shmooze Editors

Doña Gracia Nasi, born Beatriz de Luna, was a 16th century crypto Jew from Portugal, famous for working valiantly to save many of her co-religionists. Her history is complicated and many facts are in dispute. To simplify the story for a picture book audience, the author sometimes chooses one historical opinion over another or glosses over details. It is difficult to compress Dona Gracia's adventurous life into this format and difficult to determine the accuracy of this brief portrayal. However, the book succeeds in conveying the general outlines of Dona Gracia's life and the impressiveness of her accomplishments.

The illustrations are sumptuous, with their rich colors and intricate patterns. Dona Gracia is an important historical figure and an inspiring woman, unusually influential and powerful for her time, and deeply committed to Judaism despite facing incredible challenges. The author's admiration for her is clearly conveyed.

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Reviewed by The Sydney Taylor Shmooze editors.