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Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim


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Grade 1-4—Not much has been written about the biblical figure believed to be the first to step into the Sea of Reeds during the Israelite's exodus from Egypt. However, Cohen has successfully fictionalised the scant biblical account and embellished the midrash to create a child-friendly picture book about overcoming fear, trusting in God, and believing in oneself. As a boy, Nachshon earned his reputation for bravery by smuggling cool drinking water to his father and brothers in the quarries, spying on Pharaoh's royal courtiers, and venturing out into the darkness of the ninth plague to cheque on his neighbours. But despite these courageous acts, he was terrified of the water and refused to venture into the Nile. Yet when the Israelites finally fled and stood on the banks of the Sea of Reeds, it was Nachshon who led the way. Remembering what Moses had taught—"Real freedom means facing your fears and overcoming them"—he stepped into the water and the level reached his lips before the sea miraculously parted, allowing the Israelites to escape from the advancing Egyptian army. The digitally prepared, mixed-media illustrations utilise muted yellow, orange, and brown tones to depict the sweltering heat of the desert and bright blue and green tones to illustrate the celebration of freedom. They complement and enhance the text marvellously. A wonderful, unique addition.—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
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