Fall 2023

Zhen Yu and the Snake

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

In long ago 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. She opens the door, sticking her hairpin into the silk wall, unknowingly killing the lurking snake that the fortune teller had foretold. “It was the mitzvah of giving to the poor that kept you safe,” says her father. Based on the Talmudic tale of Rabbi Akiva’s daughter and a snake.

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 24
Publication Date 2023-09-05
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV033020, JUV022000, JUV016030
Dewey [E]
Dimensions 9.75 x 9.75
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Erica Lyons

Erica Lyons is chair of the Hong Kong Jewish Historical Society and is the Hong Kong Delegate to World Jewish Congress. She's also the founder and manager of PJ Library Hong Kong. She lives in Hong Kong.

Illustrator: Renia Metallinou

Renia Metallinou studied graphic design in the Athenian Design College. She works in pencil, ink, and digital media as well as gouache, watercolors, and collage. She lives in Greece.


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Picture Book Notable, Commended, 2024
  • Tablet Magazine's Best Jewish Children's Books of 2023, Winner, 2023


Kirkus Reviews

“A novel take on a traditional tale.”―Kirkus Reviews

Asian Review of Books

“A gripping tale that is enhanced with lively illustrations from Metallinou. Together the story and images make for a remarkable and unique picture book.”―Asian Review of Books

Sydney Taylor Shmooze

“This story is an excellent and rich addition to Jewish children’s literature.”―Sydney Taylor Shmooze