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When Solomon was king - and other wondorous tales

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"Legend says that the Jerusalem sky has a hole in it, made by a jewel that fell from God's throne. Through this hole hopes reach heaven."

A new book for young readers, "Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents" tells a simple story that children instinctively understand.

But in its beauty and simplicity, the message conveys a powerful idea that inspires both children and adults into thinking . . . and talking.

In exhuberantly colorful drawings and words, author and illustrator Mark Podwal tells the story of the ancient city of Jerusalem, home to Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the sky full of miracles that has enveloped the city throughout time.

When Solomon was King the Jewish Temple was built -- a task that took seven years. But rain fell from the Jerusalem sky only after dark, so the work would not be delayed.

Under that same sky, a spring afternoon's daylight blackened into starless night when Jesus died on a small hill, now covered by a great church.

And Muslims tell of "the prophet Muhammad's night journey, in which midnight glowed like day when he rode through the sky on a flying horse, then reached heaven on a stairway of light." On the spot where he rose to heaven stands a dome of gold that shines like a second sun.

The shadows of all these things merge under the Jerusalem sky. And Podwal writes:

"Jerusalem is so loved it has seventy names. Though it is called City of Peace, no place has been fought over more. Seventeen times torn apart and rebuilt. Perhaps possessing Jerusalem is like trying to own the sky."

Podwal's drawings have appeared in the New York Times for the past 32 years, and his work is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is the author and illustrator of numerous award-winning books.

When not drawing, he is a clinical associate professor at New York University School of Medicine.

Jerusalem Sky is a lovely addition to books that deserve to be read over and over.

Judy Randle 581-8331

(C) 2005 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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