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SHOSHI'S SHABBAT by Caryn Yacowitz


by Caryn Yacowitz ; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-5362-1654-7
Publisher: Candlewick

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)