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FROGS IN THE BED

MY PASSOVER SEDER ACTIVITY BOOK

While meant to engage children before, during and after the ceremony, this pedestrian and amateurish workbook is unlikely to...

Traditional Passover Seders are often lengthy and uninteresting for young children; this picture activity workbook offers a variety of art projects, games and even a comic strip to help counteract this effect.

An illustrated version of the classic “Frog Song” introduces the holiday’s theme with a sleepy pharaoh awakening to frogs in his bed, on his head and jumping everywhere in his realm. Subsequent pages follow with a surprising bounty of activities, given the slimness of the volume. There’s a Seder plate symbol-matching game, followed by the four questions in the original Hebrew, with Romanized spellings and in English translation. A comic-strip version of the magid attempts to inject a little humor into the Passover story. There’s an activity that encourages children to “munch” their matzo into different shapes and another that places the afikoman at the center of a maze activity. Suggested crafts include making Elijah’s cup and, of course, jumping frogs. Throughout, cartoon illustrations uneasily combine an ancient Exodus atmosphere with detailed instructions for each activity.

While meant to engage children before, during and after the ceremony, this pedestrian and amateurish workbook is unlikely to keep children absorbed for long. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-87441-913-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Behrman House Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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THANKFUL

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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NAMASTE IS A GREETING

Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste.

What does it mean to say namaste?

This picture book attempts to explain this traditional, formal greeting used in South and Southeast Asia to welcome people and bid them farewell—in particular, as a way to show respect to elders. A child with dark hair, dark eyes, deep-brown skin, and a bindi on their forehead goes to a market with their caregiver and buys a potted plant to give their lonely, lighter-skinned neighbor. Vibrant, textured illustrations depict a blossoming friendship between the little one and the neighbor, while a series of statements describe what namaste means to the child. However, the disjointed text makes the concept difficult for young readers to grasp. Some statements describe namaste in its most literal sense (“Namaste is ‘I bow to you.’ " “Namaste is joining your palms together”), while others are more nebulous (“A yoga pose. A practice.” “Namaste calms your heart when things aren’t going right”). The lack of backmatter deprives readers of the cultural context and significance of this greeting as well as knowledge of the countries and cultures where it is used. Moreover, the book doesn’t convey the deep respect that this greeting communicates. The absence of culturally specific details and the framing of namaste as a concept that could apply to almost any situation ultimately obscure its meaning and use. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1783-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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