Green Bean Books

A Basket Full of Figs

Take a peak inside

Written by Ori Elon
Illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt
Translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann

Price: £8.99 / $12.95
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781784384722
Subject: Retelling of a Midrash on planting trees for future generations


  • A fable for our times, which teaches the value of the natural world and the importance of preserving it for future generations
  • A beautifully illustrated picture book for 4-8 year olds
  • An accessible and captivating retelling of an ancient story


‘I plant a fig, I plant a gift. For children, for the coming generations.’

When the Emperor Hadrian gallops into the village, its inhabitants hide in fear. All except one. An old man, almost one hundred years old, comes outside to plant a fig tree.

Hadrian stops his horse. ‘What are you doing?’ he asks the old man. ‘That tree is so small and you are so old! Surely you won’t live long enough to eat its fruit!’ The old man responds: ‘if I don’t then my children will’.

Three years later, Hadrian returns. Meeting the old man again, he is shocked to see that the tree has grown and it is covered in figs. The old man’s prophecy of gifts for future generations has come true.

Recreating one of the Midrash’s most beautiful tales, A Basket of Figs teaches the importance of caring for the environment and consideration for our fellow human beings.

Ori Alon’s enchanting storytelling and Menahem Halberstadt’s stunning illustrations bring this wise fable to life on the page, to inspire and delight young readers.

Author Details

Ori Elon is an award-winning Israeli filmmaker and writer. He is the author of Invisible Show, which won the Israeli Ministry of Culture Best Novel award. He has written several children’s books including The Chickens that were Turned into Goats, King Gogle and In the Z’akrobat. He is the co-creator and writer of the critically acclaimed television drama Shtisel which won 17 Israeli Academy Awards. He was one of the writers of the drama series Srugim, the mini series Autonomous and the comedy The Choir.

Illustrator Details

Menahem Halberstadt studied painting and drawing under the instruction of the famous Israeli artists Leonid Balaklav and Aram Gershuni. Following this, he studied animation at the Betzalel Academy and graphic design at Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem. He works as an illustrator with a number of publishing houses in Israel and lives in Israel with his wife and four children.


“A lovely addition to the Tu B’Shevat bookshelf … that can also be enjoyed year-round to illustrate the mitzvah (good deed) of caring for the environment and the Jewish values of generosity and optimism.” – Rachel Kamin, AJL News and Reviews

“This delightful picture book is a version of an oft-told tale which is concisely written and resonant with both enlightenment and entertainment. There are numerous variations on this classic story. In this one, the lessons are clear enough for young children to discuss and absorb, and it is accompanied by expressive color illustrations and an appealing layout. This is a perfect book for parents or teachers to share aloud with children. Ongoing discussion of the theme can be tailored to age and individual experience and is certain to provide insightful exchanges of opinion as well as a slice of ancient Jewish history.” – Michal Hoschander Malen, Jewish Book Council 

“In this winsome retelling of a Midrash tale, the Roman emperor Hadrian sees a very old man, followed by a duck, planting a fig tree. Curious, Hadrian says, the tree is so small… and you are so old! Surely you won’t live long enough to eat its fruit? The old man explains that the tree is a gift and points out that when he came into the world there were lots of trees… wonderful gifts that earlier generations had kindly left for me. Years later, Hadrian finds the man, still living and enjoying the figs; he shares some with Hadrian, who rewards him with gold (a detail extraneous to the moral that trees are a gift themselves). The kinetic, sketchy lines of Halberstadt s illustrations appealingly depict Hadrian, in full Roman regalia, trotting through a jumbled village where residents peer out from patched curtains and ducks face off with mounted steeds. Ages 5–8.” – Publishers Weekly

“I thought that this was a lovely story! It has a great flow to it and I loved the images—they added a lot to the story and really brought it to life.

The story is the re-telling of a traditional tale of an old man who plants a fig tree which is not for himself to enjoy as he is very old, but for his children and grandchildren and many generations after him to enjoy too. It is certainly a book that gives you food for thought as an adult too (no puns at all intended!)

It is 4 stars from me for this one, it was a great story that showed the importance of caring for our world, the environment and our future.” – 4/5 star Amazon review from donnasbookblog

A Basket Full of Figs would make an excellent tie-in to the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, when trees are typically planted in Israel. The story also imparts a valuable lesson about providing for the next generation and would comfortably lend itself to classroom discussions about how parents provide for their children, but children can also make a difference in the world and provide for those who will come after them. All in all, with such universal messages, the book can be enjoyed by children of all faiths and religious backgrounds.” – Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili, The Sydney Taylor Shmooze