Search for the Shamir
From the Series Scarlett and Sam
A close encounter with Grandma Mina’s time-traveling carpet sends Scarlett and Sam to ancient Jerusalem, where some very important people need their help. The twins meet the prophet Nathan, the warrior Benayahu ben Yehoiada, and even King Solomon himself, the wisest ruler of all time. But Solomon has a big problem that even his wisdom can’t solve. God wants him to build the Temple, but it can’t be done without the mythical insect called the shamir. It’s up to the twins to find the shamir—even if that means facing off against the king of the demons.
|Interest Level||Grade 1 - Grade 3|
|Reading Level||Grade 3|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®|
|Number of Pages||152|
The Jewish Chronicle
“Biblical timetravelling is the mission of Scarlett and Sam, in Search for the Shamir by Eric A. Kimmel (Kar-Ben, £5.50). They journey to the time of Solomon and witness his wisdom — although they are bemused at his fancy-dress appearance. Solomon needs to build a Temple but may not use war-like metal tools to cut the stone. The answer is a shamir, a creature that cuts stone by gaze alone. Can the twins find one? Age six to nine.” – The Jewish Chronicle
Association of Jewish Libraries
“Eric Kimmel has given us another educational monster/demon book. Think Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Holiday House, 1994) in ancient Israel. This second book in the Scarlet and Sam series sends the time traveling twins to Jerusalem during the time of King Solomon. They travel on Grandma Mina’s flying carpet. King Solomon and the Prophet Nathan brought them to help Solomon build the Temple. We see the wisdom of Solomon in the story of the baby which two mothers claim. The Prophet Nathan explains that a prophet is not a fortune teller. Solomon can’t build the temple because the Kingdom has no money and according to Jewish law, his builders can’t use tools to build the holy temple because metal is used to build weapons of war. They need to find the Shamir, an insect mentioned in the midrash that can cut through stone. In searching for the Shamir they must outwit Ashmedai (Asmodeus), The King of the Demons. Sam and Scarlett frequently share lessons that they learned in Hebrew School with their ancient hosts. The Author’s Note at the end of the book explains midrash, Solomon’s Temple, and the Jewish view of demons. The very detailed black and white illustrations help to place the story in ancient times. The lifting of the lid with Solomon’s magic ring shows children what a covered well for water looked like. The plot is a little unrealistic but the humor and asides will engage all readers, especially the references to modern technology. What child doesn’t want to travel back in time and help to determine the future?” – Association of Jewish Libraries
Jewish Book Council
“Twins Scarlett and Sam are off on another adventure; this time, their destination is King Solomon’s kingdom. They arrive to find the young king with no money and a dictum from God to build a temple. Despite Solomon’s reputed wisdom for solving all problems, building the temple seems impossible. It has to be built without iron, which is considered a tool of war. Without iron, who will be strong enough to cut the giant stones and install them in the necessary places?
Nathan, the prophet, appears on the scene ready to receive messages from God that can help Solomon. Unfortunately, his visions are murky and Scarlett and Sam must use their ingenuity to interpret them.
The twins, Solomon, and Nathan work as a team and discover that finding the shamir, a one-of-a-kind insect that can cut stone, will solve their problem. Nathan’s vision assures them that Ashmodai, king of the demons, has the shamir. The time-traveling twins’ courage, initiative, and dedication make them uniquely suited to help wrest the shamir from this unwilling demon.
Following the twists and turns of the plot is delightful, and humorous allusions from the present time are inserted with comic effect. The black and white drawings add to the story’s atmosphere. With excellent messages (evil doesn’t win; those who use careful observation and intelligence do) and lots of humor, this book is recommended for readers ages 7 to 12.” – Jewish Book Council
“Dangers, duplicity, and acts of courage ensue, and they triumph. While the ancient characters do not know what the future holds (with one odd exception), Scarlett and Sam have learned in Hebrew school of the people and events of the Torah, as well as the midrashim, the stories and legends that complement the Torah. Kimmel takes a nontraditional approach, employing 21st-century syntax and sensibilities for all the characters, making the tale accessible for modern readers, whatever their religions. Stevanovic’s manga-like gray-toned illustrations nicely merge the ancient with the contemporary. A lively combination of ancient history, religion, and thrilling magic. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 8-12)” – Kirkus Reviews
Author: Eric A. Kimmel
Eric A. Kimmel has been writing for children for more than 40 years. His more than 100 titles include such classics as Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and The Chanukkah Guest. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Illustrator: Ivica Stevanovic
Ivica Stevanovic has illustrated numerous picture books, as well as book covers and graphic novels. He lives in Veternik, Serbia, with his wife, who is also a children's illustrator, and their daughter.