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Children's Books

The Secret Shofar of BarcelonaThe Secret Shofar of Barcelona

by Jacqueline Dembar Greene and Doug Chayka (Illustrator)
Publication: Kar-Ben Publishing, 2009

Ages 10 and up

 

Don Fernando is a converso, a Jew who practices his religion secretly during the time of the Inquisition. He is also a respected composer, and he writes a symphony to celebrate Spain's colonies in the New World using Native American instruments. His son convinces him to include a shofar among the deer-toe rattles and leather drums so that the conversos can hear the traditional sound of the ram's horn on the Jewish New Year, which coincides with the concert. The dangerous plan proves successful: the Duke loves the symphony, and Spain's secret Jews retain an ancient tradition. Based on a legend, this intriguing slice of converso life offers a thoughtful hero and a suspenseful plot. The warm, opaque paintings are expressive and create a strong sense of place. Although the religious significance of the shofar is never explained, the story conveys its emotional pull for Jewish listeners. Themes of cultural identity and empowerment under oppression will appeal to readers of all backgrounds. -- School Library Journal

 

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