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Cakes and Miracles

Meet Me At the Well: The Girls and Women of the Bible

With Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Vali Mintzi
[Buy This Book]
ISBN: 978-1580893749 hardcover, Charlesbridge, 2018
Reading level: Age 10 and up

Bible stories are almost entirely centered on men. Leaders, prophets, kings, generals, soldiers, and priests are almost all male.

But there are many girls and women in the Bible, though their stories are often hidden in the background. Put a spotlight on these girls and women and you'll see that they're strong-willed and daring. From the first woman, Eve, to Miriam the prophet, to Deborah the judge, and Queen Esther, savior of her people, they are resourceful and courageous.

Authors Jane Yolen and Barbara Diamond Goldin craft nine retellings about fourteen biblical women and answer the question: What makes these women heroes?

Whether you know these mothers, daughters, and wives from the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament)—or if you're meeting them for the first time—you're invited to think deeply about their stories, much like religious leaders, scholars, and others have, finding new ways of understanding the women's lives.

Meet these women at the well—where they came to gather and talk—and listen, learn, and be inspired.

"Two award-winning children's-book authors team up for a more modern, feminist take on stories of girls and women in the Hebrew Bible. In biblical times, wells were the centers of social life for teenage girls—where future husbands and thirsty animals might appear and news and gossip are traded.

"Via 14 stories that range from Eve, the first woman and mother, to Esther, who becomes savior and queen of her people, readers learn about these and other complicated subjects, including marriage, motherhood, infertility, widowhood, and inheritance, as well as female roles and experiences as judge, prophet, and leader. Each chapter offers a story overview identifying female heroism, as well as annotated sidebars anticipating readers' questions, followed by an "Imagine" segment in the character's voice by Goldin and a poem by Yolen.

"The authors demystify the concept of midrash—noncanonical exploration of or commentary on a story or text—empowering readers to consider their own searching examinations of the subjects presented. Most of the commentary is from Jewish sources, but some include commonalities with other faiths, particularly Christianity and Islam. While the presentation is a little staid, this book is solid, well-researched, well-organized, and especially appropriate for young people preparing for or celebrating coming-of-age rituals. A much-needed, thoughtful updating of Bible stories about women that functions as both storytelling experience and classic reference tome."

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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