MRS. NOAH’S DOVES

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Kindly, gentle Mrs. Noah, her long white hair in a half-up bun, nurses injured birds of all kinds back to health. Doves, which remind her of her grandmother (presumably deceased) “at night, bending over to pray in her soft, gray clothing,” are her favorite. When it begins to rain interminably, Mrs. Noah struggles to keep her bird cages above the rising floodwaters. “Do not worry,” Mr. Noah reassures her, “God has told me what to do.” With his sons and daughters, he builds a “huge boat” (the sudden absence of rain in the illustration showing the boat’s construction may confuse some readers) that spares his family and a male and female of each animal species from the world-engulfing flood. When the rain stops, Mrs. Noah sends out her birds to find evidence of dry land. The eagles, ravens, terns, and gulls all fail to return, but her doves come back bearing bits of vegetation in their beaks, heralding the deluge’s end. Lyrical imagery suffuses the lexically stimulating text: Raindrops are “small drips as perfect as pearls,” and rain showers are “cloudbursts and gully washers.” Massari’s trademark style incorporates various textures and elaborate patterns recalling the ornamentations of sacral architecture. The animals’ droll facial expressions (Noah’s too, at times) sometimes give them a bored look. The characters’ light-brown skin and clothing cue them as Middle Eastern. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

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