Charity and caring for others—the Jewish concept of “tzedakah”—comes full circle in the story of a big sister who demonstrates generosity to a younger sibling through community outreach.
After she learns about tzedakah at the community center, Dalia comes home and creates a tzedakah box to begin saving for the center’s project. She inserts a dollar from her birthday money and tells her curious little brother, Yossi, that the box holds “a big yellow comforter.” With each new donation to the box earned from her gardening chores and lemonade sales, Dalia adds a butterfly bush and a banana cream pie. Yossi’s confusion grows; how can these things fit in what is essentially a piggy bank? Dalia kindly explains how her money, pooled with the other center participants’, will eventually buy all three for a lonely, homebound elderly woman. In joining his sister, Yossi learns that “Tzedakah means… doing the right things. It means thinking of others and giving them what they need.” Dressen-McQueen’s fully developed summer scenes in acrylic and oil pastel provide a vivid complement to the often–page-filling text, their naive, folk quality bringing great quantities of love and warmth to the tale.
As vivid a demonstration of community as readers are likely to find. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-7)