Zhen Yu and the Snake

by Erica Lyons
Illustrated by Renia Metallinou
Kar-Ben/ Lerner
September 2023

   Sydney Taylor Notable

Long ago in China, a girl named Zhen Yu wanders away from her father at a busy market. A mysterious fortune teller helps Zhen Yu’s father find her, but also warns him that one day his daughter will be bitten by a snake on her wedding night. Years later, as Zhen Yu is dressing for her wedding, a knock comes on the door. Although it is her wedding day, she is not too busy to show kindness to a stranger. Based on the Talmudic tale of Rabbi Akiva’s daughter and the snake.

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, and more.

From Kirkus

“A novel take on a traditional tale.”

From the Sydney Taylor Shmooze

“Erica Lyons magnificently adapted the tale to old China and beautifully introduced the readers to the back story of the Jewish community in Kaifeng, China. Erica features the culture as well as bits and pieces of traditions of the Kaifeng Jewish community and their way of life among their non-Jewish neighbors…This story is an excellent and rich addition to Jewish children’s literature.”

From the Asian Review of Books

“One doesn’t need to be well-versed in the Talmud or know anything about Judaism for that matter to understand and enjoy this story, a gripping tale that is enhanced with lively illustrations from Metallinou. Together the story and images make for a remarkable and unique picture book.”

From the Jewish Book Council

“tru­ly beau­ti­ful and cap­ti­vat­ing book”

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) 

“A Talmudic tale gets a 12th-century Chinese twist in children’s book aimed at diverse Jewish readers”

From the Times of Israel

“There’s these stories that people don’t know, and to be able to tell them and bring them to Jewish children, and children generally, is really incredible,” Lyons said.

From Tablet Magazine

On the list of The Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2023

For educators and parents (really for kids) I have free Zhen Yu and the Snake worksheets too.