Book Review: The Story of Queen Esther

Looking for a way to introduce children to the story of Purim but also want to pay homage to its Persian roots? The Story of Queen Esther breathes new life into the classic Purim tale. This well-known story of the Jewish girl who became the queen of Persia is retold for young readers with enchanting Persian influenced illustrations across two-page spreads. 

When the powerful king of Persia, Aha­suerus (Ahashverosh), decides to take a wife, he chooses the beautiful Esther. Esther chooses to hide her Jewish identity at the behest of her cousin, Mordechai. Unlike most Purim stories, this story centers on the life, wisdom, and bravery of Queen Esther. Koralek expertly articulates what Esther may have thought, how she may have felt, and the strength it took for a young girl to hold a secret identity.

Aha­suerus missed an essential element of Esther’s identity. And yet, as important as her Jewishness was, it is not the totality of who she was. Perhaps had he only seen her Jewishness, she might never have qualified to be queen, a role she was clearly more than capable of fulfilling.

The Story of Queen Esther gives readers an opportunity to think about hidden identity and cultural belonging in ourselves and our communities. In our daily lives, we learn to navigate different social and cultural settings by showing or concealing elements of who we are. Additionally, we all have elements of our identities that are immediately visible to others and elements of our identities that are hidden. For example, some elements, like the color of your skin, are harder to conceal than others.

Hidden identities can be powerful, protective, and sometimes painful. Esther concealing her Judaism, allowed her to navigate the politics of the palace community, and save the Jewish people. At times, Jews from all over the world have had to conceal their Judaism in order to survive.

Share Queen Esther’s gift with your family today!

Want to learn more about Queen Esther’s Persian-Iranian heritage? Celebrate the Jewish history of ancient Persia and modern Iran, and discover the continuing relevance of the story of Purim. Sign up for  Be’chol Lashon’s new Passport to Peoplehood educational resources.

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