Book takes children on an archaeological adventure in Israel - review

Discovering ‘treasures’ and spreading wings at Beit Guvrin.

 RESEARCHERS INSIDE an archaeological site near Beit Guvrin, 2011. The protagonist-girl goes on an adventurous dig in the area. (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
RESEARCHERS INSIDE an archaeological site near Beit Guvrin, 2011. The protagonist-girl goes on an adventurous dig in the area.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Dabi and her parents are visiting her grandparents in Israel and Dabi is doing what she loves most – digging outside in the dirt and exploring nature. Her mother thinks she should go back inside her grandparents’ house. “We didn’t fly you all the way to Israel for you to play in the dirt,” Ima tells her.

Dabi thinks otherwise. Later, when she drizzles water into the dirt to make mud, she molds and sculpts the mud into different things like birds, rabbits and cookies. Her father agrees with her mother and thinks what she is doing is much too messy. “Go get cleaned up, put on one of your new dresses, and show everyone what a beautiful little lady you are,” said Abba.

Dabi does not want to be a “little lady.” She happily discovers that her aunt, her mother’s sister, is a lot like her. Doda Gili calls her an “adventure girl,” and that is exactly what Dabi wants to be. “A little dirt never hurt anyone,” Doda Gili tells Ima.

When Doda Gili comes to take Dabi out for the day, she could not be happier. Doda Gili takes her to the Beit Guvrin National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they arrive, they meet a friendly archaeologist who takes them into a cave and they begin to dig up dirt looking for treasures from long ago. Dabi has a wonderful time because she is doing what she loves. When she discovers her own treasure at Beit Guvrin, her visit to Israel gets even more exciting.

Adventure Girl was written and illustrated by Janice Hechter, an award-winning illustrator and fine artist. Hechter has illustrated a number of other children’s books but this is her first book as both author and illustrator. Adventure Girl is intended for children ages eight or nine, although younger children will enjoy it as well. The story is uncomplicated, easy to read and has a message about being true to yourself. Adventure Girl exposes the young reader to the exciting world of archaeology while presenting Israel as an interesting and fun place to visit. 

The ‘Bell Caves’ at Beit Guvrin (credit: SHMUEL BAR-AM)The ‘Bell Caves’ at Beit Guvrin (credit: SHMUEL BAR-AM)

Hechter is an extremely talented artist and her illustrations are charming. With gentle strokes and soft natural colors, she brings Dabi and her family alive on the page. Her excellent illustrations of Beit Guvrin are realistic and add a great deal to the story. I hope that she will write and illustrate other children’s books set in historical sites in Israel, which would be a wonderful way for children abroad or English readers in Israel to learn more about the country. 

As a person who always loves a good children’s book, I enjoyed Adventure Girl very much and recommend it highly.

Adventure Girl can be ordered online at the Book Depository and Better World Books.

Adventure Girl – Dabi Digs in IsraelBy Janice HechterAlazar Press32 pages; $17.95