Welcoming guests and even strangers to the dinner table is part of the Shabbat ritual, and it’s celebrated nicely here.

THE SUNDOWN KID

A SOUTHWESTERN SHABBAT

After moving to a town in the Old West, a young, white Jewish boy and his parents find celebrating Shabbat to be a lonely tradition.

On the western frontier, Papa spends the week with his boy making his homestead ready for planting while Mama takes care of their adobe house. But on Friday, regular work is suspended to make ready for Shabbat. After lighting candles and blessing wine and challah, the family feels unsettled. “Too much soup,” says Mama. “Not enough family.” In the city back East there were always aunts, uncles, and cousins with whom to share a Shabbat meal. Reminiscing about the large, weekly family gatherings gives the boy the idea to invite their new friends and neighbors for some good old-fashioned chicken soup, thus making the next Shabbat a more joyous, communal affair. Bietz uses an oral storytelling style with repetitive phrasing to introduce the arrival of Shabbat, enfolding both details of the hardworking lives of homesteaders with Jewish cultural details. Clean lines and muted colors on a textured background illustrate a late-19th-century Western landscape and its mostly white residents (blacksmith Ricardo and his nephew, both Latino, are notable exceptions). Framed portrait drawings in gray tones portray flashbacks of the family’s much-missed relatives and are superimposed collage-style on several scenes.

Welcoming guests and even strangers to the dinner table is part of the Shabbat ritual, and it’s celebrated nicely here. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939160-94-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Boelts’ quiet tale celebrates the perseverance of a young girl as she attempts to achieve her goals

HAPPY LIKE SOCCER

Soccer is a bittersweet mix of sorrow and joy for Sierra.

Sierra struggles with conflicting emotions about her new soccer team. Traveling out of the city, Sierra now plays on soccer fields unlike the one near the apartment where she lives with her aunt, which is exciting. However, being on this new team has some drawbacks. With most games on Saturdays—which is her aunt’s busiest day at the restaurant—Sierra is sad to be the only player without family members to cheer for her during games. Yet, with a little ingenuity, Sierra discovers a solution to her dilemma. Boelts focuses on the relationship between Sierra and her aunt, deftly portraying Sierra’s maturity and fortitude as she attempts to resolve the situation. Sierra, while dedicated to her sport, recognizes the importance and inspiring effect of her aunt’s support and encouragement. Castillo’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations of the city’s landscapes feature towering buildings in an austere setting. In contrast, drawings of Sierra’s home and her aunt’s workplace depict warm, cozy scenes. Scenes with the dark-skinned, crinkly-haired auntie and niece emphasize the close, nurturing relationship. Action-filled paintings of the soccer games capture the fast-paced excitement of the game.

Boelts’ quiet tale celebrates the perseverance of a young girl as she attempts to achieve her goals . (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4616-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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