*The Miracle Seed by Martin Lemelman

The Miracle Seed tells the amazing story of how a tree extinct for a millennium came back to life.

*The Miracle Seed by Martin Lemelman. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2023, 80 pages

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for; ages 7-12

Our story begins around A.D. 70, when Roman General Titus savagely put down the last Jewish revolt, destroyed the Temple, and scattered the people of Judea. The one last holdout was the mountain fortress of Masada, but that too was overrun in A.D. 74. The fortress was abandoned, leaving clothes, coins, weapons, and household items to be covered by 2000 years of dust and sand. Among the household items was a jar of date seeds—specifically, seeds of the Judean date tree, long prized for the sweetness and medicinal value of its fruit.

While the ruins of Masada slept, the Judean date tree was growing extinct. Whether by climate or war, the trees were cut or strangled or starved until, by A.D. 1000, there were none left. But fast-forward to 1964, when a team or archaeologists trekked up the narrow path to Masada and uncovered its long-lost treasures, including a jar of date seeds. Forty years later, two women—a medical researcher and a botanist, began to wonder if the Judean date tree could be resuscitated through one of those Masada seeds. After 2000 years? Highly unlikely. But it was worth a try . . .

The carefully researched and beautifully rendered book tells the story of the “ordinary miracle” of organic life. While making no direct reference to God and his creation, the text includes quotes from classical Judaism, the Psalms, and C. S. Lewis. It also underscores the outsized contributions Jews have made to science, medicine, and technology in the modern age. This is a story worth knowing, told in a readable and engaging graphic-novel format. If your library doesn’t have a copy, request that they purchase one!

Overall Rating: 4.75 (out of 5

  • Worldview/moral value: 4.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 5

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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