Books by Leslie Kimmelman

Released: April 1, 2019

"Though not much of a challenge, Lena's detective work helps solve the mystery of a rabbi's professional life from a child's perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)"
Young Lena, an aspiring detective, secretly observes the rabbi of her synagogue doing his numerous tasks and performing his varied responsibilities. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2018

"Regardless of the monsters' rather sudden turnabout, Frankenstein models self-assurance and kindness, both of which are much needed. (Picture book. 4-8)"
No matter how much the other monsters tease him, Frankenstein is "comfortable in his own green skin." Read full book review >
WRITE ON, IRVING BERLIN! by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: May 15, 2018

"Heartwarming Americana. (author's note, selected songs, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)"
A Jewish immigrant's passage from pogroms in Russia to "God Bless America"—written 100 years ago to celebrate his beloved adopted home. Read full book review >
HERE COME THE HELPERS by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: May 1, 2018

"The lack of real excitement will make these helpers fade from memory like sirens on a distant road. (Board book. 3-4)"
Part emergency adventure, part reassurance that help is on the way—youngsters fascinated by vehicles with sirens will be attracted to this board book. Read full book review >
TRICK ARRR TREAT by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"While many would welcome a pirate-themed Halloween tale, this one isn't quite shipshape. (Picture book. 4-8)"
When a pack of kids decides to all dress up as pirates for Halloween, their imaginations almost get the best of them. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 27, 2015

"The sites are well-chosen and terrifically multicultural. (They include a shuk and a Baha'i shrine.) Readers may like them even better if they ignore the fragmented rhymes on top of the pictures. (Picture book. 3-7)"
This introduction to Israel is a book that can be read out of order. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2014

"A captivating introductory piece for budding history buffs. (Picture book. 7-12)"
When the first official visit by a British royal to the United States since independence is scheduled in 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt hosts an all-American picnic. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2014

"If only the stories were as involving as the pictures around them. (Early reader. 5-8)"
This is a collection of Jewish stories that leaves out the stories. Read full book review >
SAM AND CHARLIE (AND SAM TOO!) by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: March 1, 2013

"Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare. (Early reader. 6-8)"
Not even the worthy subject matter can overcome the herky-jerky writing in this rare glimpse into everyday Jewish life. Read full book review >
THE SHABBAT PUPPY by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: April 1, 2012

"An effective presentation of the weekly religious observance as a personal reflection on life's simple pleasures. (Picture book. 5-7)"
The peaceful respite offered by Shabbat is celebrated in the nature walks a boy and his grandfather enjoy. Read full book review >
THE THREE BULLY GOATS by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: March 1, 2011

The classic tale gets stood on its head in this twist from Kimmelman. The three bully goats, Gruff, Ruff and Tuff, live in a gorgeous meadow where they bully all the animals around and never share their grass. But they aren't happy—the grass over the bridge looks so much nicer. And the ogre guarding the bridge? They hardly give the puny fellow a second thought. The three take their turns tripping across the bridge, the cheerfully nice ogre attempting to make friends with them and getting rebuffed by the grouchy goats. Once over the bridge, the goats set about ruining life in the pleasant meadow with their bullying ways. Upset over this, Little Ogre comes up with a clever plan, and with the help of some baby animals who have some built-in protection of their own, the meadow is freed of the bullies for good. Terry's brilliantly colored acrylics have a soft, out-of-focus look to them, but there is no mistaking the grouchy looks and mean personalities of his Bully Goats. Big round eyes characterize the innocence of the baby animals, while Little Ogre has excellent, green warty skin, a vivid purple Mohawk and kind-hearted ways. Kimmelman's version stands out even from other nontraditional versions, since the ogre/troll is the good guy and the goats are the villains. A good springboard for both bullying conversations and problem-solving sessions. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2010

When this Jewish Little Red Hen decides it is time to get ready for Passover, her first thought is to make the traditional matzah. Gathering a small pile of grain she kept safe from water and wind, she approaches her friends and receives the typical rude, if somewhat altered, responses. " ‘Not I', said Sheep. ‘Sorry, bub,' said Horse. ‘Think again,' said Dog." Little Red Hen resigns herself to going it alone, but she is a classic kvetcher: "I should live so long, to see this bunch of lazy no-goodniks put in an honest day's work." Meisel's accompanying cartoons, done in ink, watercolor and pastels, add exactly the right touch of humor to this holiday version of a classic folktale, which is filled with enough Yiddishisms to make every Bubbe act out the reading in old-world style. In accordance with the Passover tradition to welcome all who are hungry to the seder table, the three non-helpers are invited in—and they redeem themselves with some dishwashing, while the Little Red Hen enjoys a relaxing moment. (author's note, recipe, glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Despite the title, Kimmelman's book focuses primarily on Theodore Roosevelt and his achievements—as a frail child, a Rough Rider, governor, vice president and president—instead of his lively eldest child, Alice. While some of her exploits, particularly those involving her pet snake, Emily Spinach, are taken from history, others, such as Alice riding a pig or throwing a tantrum, are generic and possibly fictional. Shown one-dimensionally, Alice's antics come across as those of a spoiled child, and the ending—Alice getting married so "[h]er father didn't have to handle her anymore"—imparts a strange message of masculine control. No mention is made of the diplomatic trips Alice managed adroitly on her father's behalf or of her lifelong, intelligent passion for politics. Gustavson's action-filled paintings show the First Family from many interesting perspectives but don't contribute to plot or tension. Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham's Sibert Honor-winning What To Do About Alice? (2008) is the better choice. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
EVERYBODY BONJOURS! by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: April 8, 2008

A petite rodent guide, Monsieur LeMousie, takes a charming young girl wearing the colors of the French flag (blue Mary Jane shoes and a red dress with a white heart) and her family on a romp through the sights of Paris, showing her where and how to use the greeting "bonjour." Simple, bouncy rhymes ("Bonjours high. / Bonjours low. / Bonjours fast. / Bonjours slow. / Everybody bonjours!") are transformed by McMenemy's exuberant paper-collage and gouache illustrations. The brilliant splashes of color depict the Eiffel Tower, the steps at a Metro station, traffic encircling the Arc de Triomphe and a café along the Boulevard St.-Germain, among other recognizable landmarks. And when it's time to bid au revoir, the little girl knows that she'll greet her grandparents waiting back home with a "hello." Endpapers with a loosely drawn map depict most of the sites visited by the girl and her family. The next-best thing to an actual visit to Paris. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
IN THE DOGHOUSE by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: April 1, 2006

A kid and a big, drooly dog share easy-reader adventures. Sound familiar? In this case, Emma and her dog Bo swim, frolic and cloud-watch during the family's lakeside vacation. When ice cream-loving Bo grabs and devours her Popsicle, Emma angrily shouts, "Go jump in the lake! . . . get lost! Scram!" In a sweetly doggy chapter of his own, Bo obliges, moving from tail-dragging sadness through a series of exuberant misadventures around and in the lake, finally lying down roadside, bee-stung and lost. When Emma and her parents search for Bo, the text supplies appropriate repetition as they retrace Bo's path. After the happy reunion, the family stops for celebratory ice-cream cones. "By-mistake-on-purpose," Emma drops a scoop for Bo. Kelley's ink-and-watercolor pictures perfectly suit this plainly told tale, aptly reflecting the action and supplying much of the humor. Nothing new, but still, a woofy treat. (Easy reader. 5-7)Read full book review >
HOW DO I LOVE YOU? by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: Dec. 1, 2005

A crocodile parent uses her child's digits to count the ways she loves him in this beautiful rhyming tribute: "How do I love you, little one? / Let me count the ways. . . . / One in sunshine; / Two in snow; / Three on rainy days." Mom loves everything about her child: from his grins, antics and messes, to the activities they do together, at all times of the day and through all the seasons. Reaching 20, she tells him that 20 is not enough: "For if I started counting now / until forevermore, as big as that / last number was, I'd love you / plus one more." The numbers are sometimes shoehorned into the rhymes, lessening its power as a counting book, but the sweetness overpowers this flaw. McCue's illustrations positively sing with the love and the joy the two bring to each other's lives. The pages are a riot of color, with vibrantly patterned borders surrounding the adorable duo. The illustrations and text suit either gender of both parent and child, making this suitable for any combination. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

Kimmelman and Cote (Round the Turkey, 2002) look at another holiday with a fairly clumsy, if well-intentioned, salute to the Fourth of July. Sturdy, uninspired couplets take young readers through an Independence Day: "Sun's up high, / Fourth of July! / Lots of preparation / for a day of celebration." So it goes, as the good people of Podunk get primed for the festivities. "Mr. Hill fires up the grill. / All the family eats their fill. / Katie toots her piccolo. / Jenny ties a big red bow." And people there are aplenty, in a rather ham-fisted display of multiculturalism: "The Dalal family smiles proudly. / ‘We're Americans now!' they proclaim loudly." Luis salutes the flag; Jimmy Yang sips lemonade. On the other hand, there is a parade with bicycles and a band, a mayor speechifying from a gazebo on the town green, and barbeques, fireworks, and a dog causing a ruckus, while the artwork has a good-natured clunkiness that fits the text. To close, Kimmelman has composed a page of facts about the Fourth: the reason for the design of the flag, key players behind the Declaration of Independence, the national bird, and the Liberty Bell. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
ROUND THE TURKEY by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

As 20 members of an extended family gather for the Thanksgiving feast, a poem by each describes thoughts of thanksgiving or a story each wants to share. Even the dog gets into the act with a poem filled with "woof" and "slurp." Although the poetry is wonderfully appropriate for the ages of the youngsters, the rhyme at times lapses into singsong and uneven rhythms. Fortunately, everyone's poem is not of the same meter or style, one (that of Julie and her new beau) is even for two voices. Thanks is given for everything from a new phone to getting to miss school after falling out of a tree. The front endpapers illustrate the family tree, which greatly assists in identifying the speakers and the immediate family to which each belongs. The family includes a single mother of three who has fallen in love with someone she will soon marry and a couple who has adopted an Asian child. The collection begins and ends with the child of the family that hosts the affair and there is an air of anticipation and love throughout. Brightly colored cartoon illustrations range from spots to a full-page spread and are rather busy, but they reflect the excitement of a family holiday. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 31, 2000

Organizing according to the Jewish calendar, Kimmelman describes Jewish religious holidays, Israeli national holidays, and the observance of the Sabbath. Each holiday identified includes its name in English and Hebrew, a brief description of its meaning, and a recipe, an activity, or a bible story related to it. The brevity of some of the explanations omits some essential information. Rosh Hashanah is the first holiday in the Jewish New Year, but Kimmelman neglects to define the Jewish year. The section on Sukkot mentions, "we shake the lulav" in a description of holiday activities, but there is no clear definition in words or illustration of the lulav. In describing matzah, Kimmelman does not make the connection about why the Israelites could not wait for bread to rise and prepared matzah instead. Illustrations sometimes do not adequately illustrate the text. A person unfamiliar with a sukkah, the hut constructed for eating meals during the holiday of Sukkot, could not tell what it looks like from Eitan's sketchy drawing. An illustration of Moses in a basket has no reference in the text to the Passover holiday. The introduction indicates that some of the holidays are recent in origin but the text makes no clear distinction between religious holidays and historically significant modern commemorations such as Yom Hashoah, the remembrance of the Holocaust and Yom Ha-atzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day. Written primarily for those who are already familiar with the celebrations, this title will not serve the informational needs of the general reader. (Nonfiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE RUNAWAY LATKES by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

This thoroughly delightful story is a Jewish version of the Gingerbread Man. Rebecca Bloom fries "Big and round, crisp and brown" latkes—potato pancakes—for the synagogue's Hanukkah party. But this batch of Rebecca's pancakes has an Attitude Problem. They have no intention of being eaten. Off they go, "to see the town, and YOU can't catch us!" Rebecca knows that she needs all the latkes for the party. She knows that she'll chase them and she's sure she can catch them. But the first thing she does is the most practical—she turns off the stove. As the latkes pass the rabbi, the cantor, some boys playing ball, the mayor, and some police officers, they keep singing and rolling. Taunting everyone with their song (which seems to get a little nasty), they approach the wide, cool Applesauce River. If they get wet, they'll be ruined. But Hanukkah is, after all, a time of miracles. And this modern miracle is that the river turns into applesauce, just the right topping. The illustrations are perfect for the story; the soft colors give everything a gentle touch and the rounded figures echo the runaway pancakes. A good, hand-printed (by Rebecca?) standard latke recipe wraps things up. And, still safety-conscious, the writer reminds us: "If you are under 12, be sure to fry the pancakes with a grownup's help." Fun for all. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
HOORAY! IT'S PASSOVER! by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: Feb. 29, 1996

Add this offering to the growing stack of books whose sole function is to teach the very young the lessons of Passover. Kimmelman and Himmelman essentially repeat the formula of their Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights (1992, not reviewed), but the weighty theme of the Exodus is not as suited to the lighthearted approach exemplified by the title and the frolicsome illustrations. The only relief from the mere recitation of the events of a Seder dinner is some feline mischief at the table, but the clowning falls flat. ``The Story of Passover'' at the end acts as an author's note as to the origins and symbols of the holiday. Utilitarian. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
FRANNIE'S FRUITS by Leslie Kimmelman
Released: March 1, 1989

"Frannie's Fruits" is the family stand, set on open farming land near a large body of water. Wherever the stand may be, it carries more than local produce: Texarkana oranges, California grapes, bananas, and strawberries share space with flowers and blackberries that customers sometimes pick for themselves. The story makes a pleasant portrait of a family enterprise, revealing it to be no more eventful than the purchase of a huge watermelon, the arrival of swimmers from the beach, or an artist posing with a sunflower can make it. Mathers makes the most of the expansive seaward vistas, the brilliant colors of of the produce, and the humorously understated facial expressions; her clean sense of color and design is a pleasure. A fine venture into social studies. Read full book review >