DEAR SANTA, LOVE, RACHEL ROSENSTEIN

The lovely ink-and-watercolor paintings cannot save this unfortunate effort with its missed opportunity for a wholly...

Jewish Rachel is enchanted by the holiday glitter of Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the anticipated visits from Santa Claus, but her family will have none of it.

Determined to take part, she writes a letter to Santa asking him to come down her chimney because she’s been “really good all year” and deems Santa “a fair person [who] will not mind that [she] is Jewish.” On Christmas Eve, Rachel secretly decorates her living room, leaves leftover latkes with chocolate chips hastily added, and an “I love you, Santa” note. She is angrily disappointed the next morning when there are no presents. In the Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day, Rachel sees classmates who are Chinese and Indian and learns they also do not celebrate Christmas, which helps to soothe the sting. The authors’ attempt to address a child’s disgruntled frustration at not participating in what seems to her to be the greatest party of the year is poorly executed, however well-intended. Even as they do an adequate job of mentioning all the jovial celebrations Jewish families enjoy throughout the calendar year (“Being Jewish was fun most of the time”), they undercut Rachel’s eye-opening multicultural revelation with an unnecessary last scene: a parade of joyful children holding gifts passes Rachel, who thinks “she could still feel a tiny bit bad” about eschewing Christmas.

The lovely ink-and-watercolor paintings cannot save this unfortunate effort with its missed opportunity for a wholly positive outcome. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51061-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

HOW TO CATCH A LOVEOSAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

I KNOW AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A DREIDEL

Fun, in an odd sort of way.

The old folk song is given a Hanukkah spin in a parody that blends Jewish tradition with art appreciation.

The kerchiefed grandma swallows a tiny dreidel placed atop her cream-cheesed bagel by the family cat, setting off the familiar chain of events. She swallows the oil, the latkes, 10 barrels of applesauce, a 20-ton brisket, a “mine full of gelt, before it could melt,” the menorah and candles until she is finally full. A large burp makes her feel better. The silliness, cadence and rhythm of the verse all work with the original tune; it can be a tongue twister at times but will keep kids engaged. “I know an old lady who swallowed a menorah— / A mountainous menorah, while we danced the hora.” Acrylic-based drawings using charcoal, pen and pencil place this bubbe in various scenes taken from classical paintings, providing an educational twist. She appears in comical versions of Munch’s The Scream and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. The applesauce in a red-and-white can spoofs Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans, and the menorah is set against the background of van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Adults will see the humor but might wonder about the artist’s point in his note stating that “a new look at famous works of art seemed like the perfect way to help people of all backgrounds enjoy this fresh take on an ancient holiday.”

Fun, in an odd sort of way. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-439-91530-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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