The fictional story of Tamar is based on archeological discoveries in the area of Megiddo (Armageddon), in Israel's Jezreel Valley, where a Christian prayer hall and mosaic inscriptions have recently been found. Here, Jews, Samarians, Roman soldiers and Christians lived together in the third century. Tepper's story breathes life into this fascinating time.
Tamar, a young girl in the ancient village of Otnai, makes mosaic plants and flowers from the small stones that she finds in the fields. One day, Brutios, a mosaic artist, comes to decorate the floor of the prayer hall for a secret Christian sect who have moved there, and Tamar is curious to see his work. She is attracted to young green-eyed Philippus, Brutios's slave, and a special friendship develops between them. She also doesn't know how to react to Elika, her neighbor's son, who is secretly in love with her. When there is trouble, Elika, her friend Naomi and Akeptus, a foreign woman, stand by her. And it is Akeptus who tells her about the secretive Christian sect.
Small Stones of Love was awarded an IBBY Honor Citation (2007).