Young Reuven has a problem. Every year, on the day before Rosh Hashanah, the beloved rabbi of the village of Nemirov disappears until nightfall and no one knows where he goes. The villagers suspect that he ascends to heaven to beg forgiveness for their sins, but Reuven’s friends want the truth. They appoint him to solve the mystery — after all, he is the smallest and fastest of the group — but how?
That evening, when Reuven watches the rabbi through the synagogue window, he gets an idea. Determined to follow him at daybreak, Reuven is baffled as the rabbi, disguised as a simple woodcutter, passes the synagogue, the cheder, and Beryl the Baker’s house — his usual stops — only to enter the great forest. Where could the rabbi of Nemirov possibly be going?
Adapted from a beloved story by I.L. Peretz, Richard Ungar once again captures the joyous spirit of the Jewish folktale with lighthearted humor and a rich palette of colors as vibrant as the story he tells.
".. .this retelling of a Jewish folktale captures the traditional shletl backdrop with lively words and bright walercolor-and-colored-pencil art that sets a sunny tone.. .Heavily textured pictures colored in oranges, reds, and blues· show the vital shtetl community."
"The story is charming and instructive for children, and Ungar's adaptation is written at a level that can be read by capable children in the target age group. Parents and teachers will also find that the story has been structured well to engage children's minds - the mystery, the dare, the adventure, the truth, the lesson"
- CM Magazine
"Ungar's coloured pencil and watercolour illustrations have an old world charm. His palate of colour include rich, rust tones. The autumnal backgrounds seem to swirl on the page."
- Resource Links
"Magnifjcently illustrated in visual folklore style.. .with dense muted watercolours and coloured pencil on paper, Even Higher is set in the mvthical long ago world of Eastern Europe. . .. Written with gentle 11Umour and sensitive to the dignitv of the story's theme, Ungar brilliantly balances boyish curiosity and banter. the three step convention of story1elling, and the epllemeral aspects of folklore tales. Even Higher soars."
- Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
"Adap1ed from I. L. Peretz's "If Not Higher," Ungar's version is more accessible to children and holds more appeal, yet still maintains the sophisticated message that may require adult explanation and guided discussion. The richly textured illustrations, in watercolor with colored pencil, provide readers with a sense of eastern European shtetl life."
- School Library Journal
"Ungar's jewel-toned watercolors and coloured-pencil illustrations beautifully capture the essence of this timeless Jewish Folktale."
- Saskatoon Star Phoenix
"A simple story can often have a big impact."
- North York Mirror
"Ungar's vibrant, rich drawings are an ideal complement to the mystical tale..."
- Jewish lndependent
"...a heartwarming treat for all ages.. ..The Vibrant, colourful drawings in Ungar's book, reminiscent of Chagall paintings, are in themselves a delight."
- The Jewish Tribune
"Full-color illustrations fill the pages with an autumn palette of blazing reds and blues. Folkloric in style. they appear to be crayon on textured paper. There are charming details, such as a cat curled into curves on top of the sleeping rabbi....It is a timeless story, worthy of sharing."
- AJL Newsletter Children's Book Reviews
"The book is illustrated with Ungar's brilliantly colored pencils and watercolors that depict a saturated landscape..."
- The Ohio Jewish Chronicles
"beautifully adapted... Ungar introduces a touch of humour and, in addition, uses children as his protagonists, making this version extremely child-centered, in an age-appropriate way."
- Jewish Book World
"Ungar's prose and Chagallesgue illustrations capture the spirit of the saintly rabbi whose deeds of loving-kindness propel him even beyond the celestrial sphere."
- Hadassah Magazine