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A lovely evocation of Shabbat traditions.

Shabbat is always a welcome day of rest.

Farmer Simon and his ox, Shoshi, plow his land in the hills near Jerusalem for six days every week. Shabbat is a day to put work aside and take time for quiet pleasures with his grandchildren; it’s also a day of rest for Shoshi, who is rewarded with fresh hay and cool water. When Simon decides that he is too old to continue working his farm, he sells his ox to Yohanan, a recent arrival who does not understand his Jewish neighbors’ traditions. Shoshi works tirelessly with Yohanan for six days but each Shabbat refuses to move. Yohanan wonders if the ox is stubborn, lazy, or ill. But when he sees his children playing with Shoshi and notices Simon with his prayer shawl, he realizes that clever Shoshi knows that Shabbat means no work. So Yohanan embraces the tradition and makes Shabbat his day of rest, too. In an author’s note, Yacowitz states that the book is based on Rabbi Yohanan ben Torta, “a beloved teacher who lived in Israel almost two thousand years ago, when the Romans ruled the Holy Land” and who, according to lore, converted to Judaism after buying a cow from a Jewish farmer. The author employs simple, accessible language that roots the story in time and place, with believable, sympathetic characters. Hawkes’ detailed acrylic depictions of Shoshi’s and the brown-skinned humans’ facial and body expressions are humorous and thoroughly delightful. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lovely evocation of Shabbat traditions. (author’s note) (Religious picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1654-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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