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Item - The Cardinal's Snuffbox

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Series: Do-It-Yourself Jewish Adventure Series — no. 1
Author: Roseman, Kenneth D.
Illustrator: Negron, Bill
Date: 1982
ISBN: 0807400599 / 9780807400593
Length: 120 pages
Kveto's Thoughts:

With a title like "The Cardinal's Snuffbox" I just had to give this one a try.

This is an interesting series. It focuses on important events or times in Jewish history and casts you as a Jew living in those times. It cutely has a page at the front carefully explaining how a pick-a-path style book works. At the bottom of each page, there is a choice, meaning there are lots of options and directions. It is written for young people and tries to teach history, but not in a condescending manner. And there is a helpful glossary in the back. Each time you encounter a word in italics, you can find the definition, not just for Jewish terms like Zohar and Parnas; locations, such as Constantinople and the Basque country; but also historical characters, like Cardinal de Sourdis and Joseph Karo.

In this book, you are an 11 year old Jewish boy in Madrid in 1492, the year Jews are expelled from Spain. It has a number of options and adventures, sending you all around Europe, the near east, and even the new world.

The first choice is whether to remain Jewish or convert to Christianity. I was curious if conversion would be an instant ending but it is not. You can even have a happy ending as a Christian priest.

Interestingly, the snuffbox from the title was given to the author's family with a ring and letter of protection by the Cardinal de Sourdis to protect them from the Inquisition, and he says the snuffbox is still in his family's posession.

Overall, a nice little historical romp which is educational but not too deep. Interactive history with a Jewish flavour.

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