A bucolic autumn in a country setting heralds the Jewish New Year.
A young family with two children (brother and sister, judging by attire) gets ready to celebrate the holiday. The simple, rhyming text and the refrain, “Rosh Hashanah is on its way,” will encourage young listeners to participate in read-alouds. The family gathers apples in an orchard, and then Mom buys pomegranates as the child narrator notes it is “a fruit I’ve never tried!” (One holiday custom is to eat a new seasonal fruit.) The text then says: “And we hope to do a mitzvah for each of the seeds inside….” This line is on a double-page spread showing the siblings watching Mom’s hands break the fruit apart to show the many seeds inside, but the word “mitzvah” (“commandment” in the religious sense or “good deed” in more secular usage) is not explained. The kids make cards and hear the shofar blown at a religious class (attended by children of various skin tones and a white boy in a wheelchair). After synagogue, the diverse congregants greet one another with “Shanah Tovah.” Then friends and relatives of different ages and races arrive for the festive meal (the protagonists’ family is white). The pleasant, soft-edged, matte illustrations depict an idealized rural world. The lack of background information suggests an audience familiar with the traditions shown.
An attractive celebration, though not an introductory one. (Picture book. 3-6)