While those who attend Jewish services will likely find this the most attention-grabbing, this is still pertinent to readers...

TORAH SCROLL

Learn the many specific steps necessary to create a Torah.

The Torah is “the holiest text of the Jewish people.” The words written on the Torah scroll are commandments for living and stories of creation. They have been preserved and revered for countless generations. In this copiously illustrated book, the author and photographer provide step-by-step directions for making a Torah scroll, from preparing the parchment and ink to writing the words and decorating covers. Ofanansky frequently engages readers in the process by asking questions such as “What tradition do YOU like to keep” and also includes interactive features, such as matching the correct answers in columns. There are many factoids, as in “304,805 / The number of letters in a Torah scroll,” as well as quotations from those engaged in the process. Readers can also learn how to make a yad, or pointer, used when reading from the text. There is a strong sense of community and modernity as men and women and girls and boys all work together for this very special creation.

While those who attend Jewish services will likely find this the most attention-grabbing, this is still pertinent to readers interested in religious studies. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68115-516-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family.

THE LANGUAGE OF ANGELS

A STORY ABOUT THE REINVENTION OF HEBREW

The ancient Hebrew language enters the modern world.

In 1885 Jerusalem, a young boy named Ben-Zion cannot converse with the polyglot children of his age because his father has decreed that he speak only Hebrew, “the first child in more than two thousand years” to do so. The father, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, is a Zionist immigrant to Palestine and fervently believes that Jews from every country, speaking so many different languages, should return to the language of their ancestors and of Jewish Scripture. Ben-Zion is not popular in the neighborhood; some consider Hebrew a holy tongue to be used only in prayer. The father persists and finds that he needs to invent words to modernize the ancient language. Thus, by combining the Hebrew words for “wheel” and for “a pair of” he creates a word for bicycle. Ben-Yehuda’s work leads to a network of schools, a dictionary, and the eventual designation of Hebrew in 1948 as the national language of Israel. Michelson’s account, based on history, is presented as a story with invented dialogue, which he addresses in his author’s note. Gudeon’s digitized watercolor illustrations, full of children, are lively and feature Hebrew words and letters as part of the page design.

A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family. (afterword, further reading) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-636-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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An uplifting poetic journey through the beginning of the Book of Genesis.

BOOK OF THE BEGINNING

Sung brings the Creation story to life in a heartfelt work of narrative poetry for children.

The author writes that he “believes everyone should have the opportunity to hear about the bible, especially at a young age.” To that end, this book guides its audience through the first seven days of the world, according to the Book of Genesis. It straightforwardly recounts the familiar story of God’s formation of heaven and Earth from the darkness, and the division of night from day. It then explores God’s separation of heaven and Earth and land and sea on the second and third days, respectively. On the fourth day, he creates the sun, moon, and stars to illuminate the skies, and on the fifth day, he populates the skies and seas with creatures of his design. The sixth day brings forth land-based animals as well as man and woman, to whom God entrusts dominion and stewardship of Creation. On the final day, God deems his work complete, deeming the Sabbath holy and resting. The text is accompanied by page after page of colorful, exuberant crayon illustrations, reminiscent of children’s art. Sung uses poetry to provide a simple and inspiring retelling of the story of Creation. While adhering closely to biblical text, he blends a variety of rhyme schemes as well as free verse elements in a manner that will engage early readers. Clever verses, such as the slant rhyme “The word becomes tangible / God makes all sorts of wild animals,” use familiar language that most youngsters will be able to understand. The book draws upon biblical verses from the English Standard Version, King James Version, New International Version, and other editions, making it accessible for many Christian denominations, and interweaves these references seamlessly, emphasizing the continuity in the Gospel narratives. Overall, Sung offers an entertaining work that will ignite young imaginations while providing a solid introduction to one of the Bible’s most famous stories.

An uplifting poetic journey through the beginning of the Book of Genesis.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973690-39-9

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2021

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