Illustrated by Karla Gudeon

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A moving story of how one boy’s dedication and determination revitalized the Hebrew language in Israel.

In 1885, few Jews in Israel used the holy language of their ancestors, and Hebrew was in danger of being lost–until Ben-Zion and his father got involved. Through the help of his father and a community of children, Ben modernized the ancient language, creating a lexicon of new, modern words to bring Hebrew back into common usage. Historically influenced dialogue, engaging characters, and colorful art offer a linguistic journey about how language develops and how one person’s perseverance can make a real difference.

Influenced by illuminated manuscripts, Karla Gudeon’s illustrations bring Ben-Zion–and the rebirth of Hebrew–to life.


  • 2018 Sydney Taylor Award: Association of Jewish Libraries
  • 2017 National Jewish Book Award
  • 2017 Junior Library Guild Gold Medal



For the love of language: Richard Michelson wins National Jewish Book Award ( full story)
Daily Hampshire Gazette

Under Michelson’s masterful pen and his signature simple prose, young readers discover how Ben-Yehuda, who wrote the first Hebrew dictionary, invented modern Hebrew words for ice-cream (glida) and bicycle (offanyim). (full story)
Jewish Journal

Michelson knows how to turn a complex story into both a brain tickler (how do you invent a word for “ice cream” or bicycle?) and a compelling emotional journey. (full review)
Publishers Weekly

A Lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover — and his family. (full review)

…schools will welcome this gorgeous new picture book about how the language developed and the impact of one person’s perseverance on an entire people.
School Library Journal

With a smoothly written text and an appealing child focus, this makes a perfect resource for religious school collections and public library language shelves.

… illustrated in deep vibrant colors with atmosphere, spirit, …tells the story of the re-emergence of Hebrew as a modern, spoken, living language but it tells it poignantly, personally and sweetly through the eyes of a child. Highly Recommended. (full review)
Jewish Book Council 

Michelson chooses well in “The Language of Angels”. (full review)
Jewish Journal


Watch this interview with Richard Michelson about The Language of Angels on WGBY.