A festive holiday celebration.


Jews in Morocco celebrate the end of Passover.

Miriam and her family live in Fès in Morocco, and as Passover concludes, she and her mother walk to the house of a Muslim family for flour. Miriam meets Jasmine, a girl her own age, and watches as her mother gifts Jasmine’s mother with a jar of fig jam in exchange for a sack of flour before inviting the family to join them for the Mimouna celebration. They hurry home, where Miriam helps set a table filled with food and symbols of good fortune, such as five gold coins. The highlights of the table are the moufleta that her mother fries. The paper-thin pancakes are spread with butter and jam and are a special treat at the end of a week of eating unleavened matzo. It is also the custom for families to go from house to house partaking of festive dinners and sharing in blessings for the coming year, and Jasmine joins in. Jasmine then invites Miriam to her upcoming Ramadan party, but Miriam declines. Her family is planning to immigrate to Israel, as indeed they do. The Mimouna holiday is relatively recent, about 250 years old, and its origins are unclear. There are currently celebrations in Israel and in New York. Families unfamiliar with Mimouna will welcome the discovery. Those whose cultures involve frying bread and visiting neighbors on holidays will also find connections here. The colorful illustrations are adorned with decorative patterns, and, yum, a recipe is included. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.6-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.6% of actual size.)

A festive holiday celebration. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-397-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.


What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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