Naamah and the Ark at Night

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-In most books about Noah, his wife plays a supporting role, if any, but Bartoletti makes her the central character of this picture book. While winds and waves buffet the ark at night, Naamah calms restless animals with her lullaby. Her husband, their sons, and their daughters-in-law sleep, but Naamah "sings all through the night." Slowly, two by two, the animals settle into slumber as the soothing poetry lulls them to rest. Meade's watercolor collage illustrations include both full-color and black-and-white spreads, subtly conveying the night outside and cozy quarters within the ark. In an author's note, Bartoletti explains the Arabic poetic form, the ghazal, that inspired the structure of her poetry. Young listeners who hear her bedtime verse will be aware only of its soothing rhythm carrying them to the final "Hush hush hush, good night."-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Everyone knows Noah. But Mrs. Noah? Bartoletti, best known for her outstanding nonfiction titles, reimagines the story of Noah's Ark and gives it a feminine face. In an author's note, Bartoletti tells how she played with a wooden ark set as a child and then wondered as an adult about the women on board. Rabbinical sources say that Noah's wife was called Naamah which means pleasant and another Jewish legend tells of a Naamah who was a singer. Taking inspiration from these interpretations, Bartoletti tells the story of the singing Naamah in a variation of an Arabic poetic structure called a ghazal. Here, the lines are filled with rolling imagery: As rain falls over the ark at night, / As water swirls in the dark of night, / As thunder crashes the seams of night, / As Noah tosses in dreams of night . . . . As all of this and more happens, Naamah sings, calming the animals, chanting to the moon and stars, and soothing her family. Lovely and lyrical, the text is matched by Meade's inventive and evocative collage work that gives shape and substance to her subjects, both human and animal. Most striking, perhaps, are her star-filled scenes that juxtapose the animals with their constellation brethren. Bartoletti and Meade take a most familiar story and make it breathtakingly new.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this atmospheric picture book, Bartoletti (The Flag Maker) gives voice to a biblical figure about whom little information exists: Noah's wife, who may have been named Naamah, Bartoletti explains in an author's note. She imagines the soothing effect of song during a long, dark night on the ark, as Naamah sings to her fellow passengers, both human and animal. Inspired by the Arabic poetic form of the ghazal (which Bartoletti also discusses at book's end), she structures a calming lullaby for the ark's inhabitants and readers alike: "Over the ark, song flows at night./ Two by two, eyes close at night./ Two by two, wings furl at night./ Two by two, tails curl at night." Meade's (If I Never Forever Endeavor) watercolor collages fill the large-format pages with all manner of animals in various states of repose. On several spreads, the refrain "Naamah sings all through the night" is paired with gray-black figures silhouetted against a starry night sky. It's a story of quiet confidence and comfort, during trials of truly biblical proportions, as well as a gentle bedtime book. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved