The beginning of a new month, known in the Jewish calendar as Rosh Chodesh, is explained via a family’s camping trip in the Negev Desert.
A young Jewish boy named Ira narrates his family’s purposeful outing to learn about the phases of the moon through a guide’s instruction and demonstrations of the Jewish lunar calendar. Clear, distinct color photography modulates from sunny, sandy desert scenes to dark, campfire-illuminated ones to highlight the essential elements of the experience. Family members hold a globe-patterned inflatable beach ball, a papier-mâché moon and a lantern as they move around one another to illustrate each phase of the moon and how each new month begins with the first sliver of the crescent moon. Of course, the clear night sky and a look through a telescope to see the stars, constellations and planets are also quite intriguing. As a final sweet culmination to the lesson, baking round pita bread over an open flame and then creating “pita-moons” with chocolate spread allows Ira a chance to synthesize what he has learned before he enjoys a big bite. The story concludes with a papier-mâché–moon craft activity.
A nice blend of planetary science and religious observance. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)