The Littlest Mountain
Rosenstock, Barb (Author) , Kar-Ben Publishing, Reviewed by: Deb Fowler, March 2011
Many people were calm and gentle, helping one another, yet others wielded their swords high to viciously fight their enemies. God grew impatient with his people and decided to call “all of the mountains together” to talk with them about the situation. The mountains agreed with God about the problems of the world and listened closely when he talked about giving them “laws to follow so that the world will finally know peace.” God had a choice to make and that choice was which mountain was most suitable to deliver his message, a message that would lay out a set of rules for his people to follow and bring peace to the world.
The mountains began to churn with activity, spouting out their assets in order to curry favor with God. The winds began to whirl among the mountains and they “joined in a great circle and danced.” They began to step forward, one by one, trying to convince him that they would be the perfect choice. There was one mountain, however, that stood back because “Its slopes were far too rocky for anyone to want.” Mt. Sinai simply would not be a practical choice for anyone to use for such an honor. Mount Hermon, Mount Tabor, Mount Ebal, Mount Moriah and others were certain they were more than suitable for the task. Which mountain would be the one chosen to give God’s message?
This simple, yet beautiful tale explains why God chose Mt. Sinai to deliver the Ten Commandments. According to the author, this tale is an adaptation of “The Contest of the Mountains” from the Midrash (Bereshit Rabbah 99:1). Each mountain carries with it the little quirks, good and bad, of the human personality. Mt. Sinai is quiet, modest, peaceful, and respectful of the others, qualities that God appreciated and wanted in a mountain that would deliver his message. The watercolors have an aura of peace about them and mesh nicely with this legend.
“This is a delightful, unique tale that you might wish to consider adding to your library shelves!”—Feathered Quill Book Reviews
The Littlest Mountain
Rosenstock, Barb (Author) , Kar-Ben Publishing 2011
This was my favorite of the four! It is a lovely adaptation of a midrash in Bereshit Rabbah, telling the story of the mountains competing to be the site of the giving of the Ten Commandments. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is told so sweetly. I wasn't sure if my kids would like it but they really did, they asked to have this one read again! I love how the story reminds us that impressing God is not about our size or our accomplishments, but rather how kind and caring we are.
—Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, imabima.blogspot
The Littlest Mountain
Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Melanie Hall. unpaged. bibliog. CIP. Lerner/Kar-Ben. 2011
This pourquoi story about why God chose Mount Sinai as the location for giving the Ten Commandments has its roots in Jewish legend. Various mountains in the land of Israel list their best qualities and argue over which should be chosen. In the end, God picks humble, faithful Mount Sinai, who says, “Whichever mountain You choose will be the best.” This is a lovely tale, but a few points in the story require some suspension of disbelief. Talkative, mobile mountains are a bit of a stretch, especially as the illustrations are realistic rather than anthropomorphic. Also, God plans to give the people “laws to follow so that the world will finally know peace.” The statement feels anticlimactic, since even young readers know that this goal was not achieved. That said, kids will get a kick out of the folktale feeling and the talking mountains, caregivers will like the lesson on the value of being humble and faithful, and Jewish educators will be thrilled to have a great read-aloud for the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Ten Commandments. The story can easily be adapted for performance as reader’s theater, a puppet show, or a stage play. The pastel-colored illustrations are very soft, perhaps a bit on the gentle side for a tale about rocky peaks, but they are well executed and do enhance the fairy- tale atmosphere. A solid choice for Judeo-Christian collections that may be enjoyed in secular settings as well.
—Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL