A dog makes an unexpected discovery just before Shabbat.
When Jodie, who wants to be an archaeologist like her father, takes her dog for a walk, the animal accidentally falls down a hole. Searching for her pet, Jodie also tumbles into the shallow pit; happily, child and canine are unhurt and climb out. Curious, Jodie asks her dad to take a look. He explains that in biblical times, it was a wine press, in which people stomped on grapes with bare feet to squeeze out the liquid. Having pondered what to give her father for his upcoming birthday, she now has an idea and discusses it with his archaeologist friend, who approves: Jodie and her friends will clean out the pit and re-create the ancients’ juice-producing method, thus devising an “old” present. The bright, loose watercolors work with the text, depicting modern-day scenes in full color and biblical re-creations in sepia tones. They are disappointingly static, and faces aren’t particularly well-defined. A point of logic may be missed by youngsters, but adults will find it hard to credit that a heretofore-undiscovered ancient site goes ignored and uninvestigated by scientists yet is allowed to be cleared of debris by children and then used for the playful squashing of grapes. Authenticity seems beside the point here—though the author’s note explains the story is based in fact—and Shabbat is irrelevant to the events.
Kids probably wouldn’t want to drink juice produced by bare feet, but that prospect is more intriguing than this minor effort. (Picture book. 6-8)