Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Benjamin and the Silver Goblet

Benjamin and the Silver Goblet, written by Jacqueline Jules, is the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers after being sold into slavery. The story is told from the younger brother Benjamin’s perspective, hence the title of the book.

After Joseph was sold into slavery, a famine spread across the land. Joseph’s older brothers traveled to Egypt to find food. They left Benjamin, the youngest, behind. When they returned, Simeon did not come with them. They told their father the governor of Egypt had accused them of being spies. When they tried to explain they had come to Egypt to get food for their father and younger brother at home, the governor said he didn’t believe them. He forced Simeon to stay behind until the rest returned with Benjamin.

On the return journey to Egypt, they took Benjamin with them. He overheard a conversation between his older brothers while they were talking about what they did to Joseph, how they sold him into slavery and then told their father he died after being attacked by a wild animal. When Benjamin heard the truth, he was afraid his brothers might do the same to him.

But, when they reached the city, they found their brother Simeon waiting for them. He had been well taken care of in their absence. The governor invited the brothers to a feast. During the meal, Benjamin got extra attention and extra food. After the meal, the governor told the brothers their bags would be filled with grain and they could return to their home the next day.

But after the brothers left the city, they were stopped by the governor’s men. The governor’s silver goblet had been stolen and everyone’s bags had to be searched. The silver goblet was found in Benjamin’s bag. All the brothers were arrested, including Benjamin, and taken back to the city.

When they returned to the city and were taken before the governor, Joseph told them they could all return home - - all of them except the one who had the silver goblet. That person was Benjamin. The brothers refused to leave Benjamin behind. It was then that Joseph finally revealed himself as being the governor. He recognized his brothers but they didn’t recognize him. He told them he was testing them to see if they were willing to betray another brother like they had betrayed him. When he found out their hearts had changed, he welcomed them with open arms. The brothers were very glad to learn Joseph was still alive.

The painted illustrations by Natascia Ugliano are vivid and expressive and done in muted colors that are appropriate for a book of this nature.

What I Like: I like having the story told from a different Benjamin’s perspective. It gives the story a different and interesting slant.

What I Dislike: Nothing, really. I just feel like I must point out that because the story is told from Benjamin’s point of view, the author took some poetic license with the details from the Biblical story. However, I think the story is enhanced with this retelling.

Also, there are no Biblical references for the story, as the story is slanted towards a Jewish audience (please see “Special Info”).

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 4-8.

Publisher Info: Kar-ben Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 9780822587583; Paperback, $8.95.

Buy now at Amazon.com $8.95.
Special Info: This book was published by Kar-ben Publishing, a publisher who specializes in Jewish picture books. The only reference to Judaism is in the Author’s Note at the end of the book where he cites some Jewish texts for his story (the Bible is not mentioned).

Visit the author’s website. Read our reviews of other books written by Jacqueline Jules. Read our reviews of other books illustrated by Natascia Ugliano.

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