A fine if not deathless choice for Shabbat reading


A Jewish family celebrates the Sabbath.

Sophie and Seth Fine and their parents, a Jewish family of European descent, enjoy an autumn picnic, hold hands for the motzi blessing, eat challah bread, and explore a barn together on a pleasant autumn Saturday. The story is told in verse that’s too often forced: “The entire Fine family adores Saturdays. / For them, Shabbat’s special in so many ways.” Mai-Wyss’ delicate and muted illustrations, that look to be pencil and watercolor, work well for a quiet fall day, however, giving the endeavor a lift. The pleasure the family takes in its outing and in one another is clear and sweet. Simultaneously publishing is the similarly themed Shh…Shh…Shabbat, by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Evgenia Golubeva. Here, animals notice the sounds of the suburbs and the city on various days of the week leading up to Shabbat. Alliteration abounds as the Turtle listens to trucks on Tuesday, Worm hears whistles and whirring wheels on Wednesday, and so on to the peace of Shabbat. On the final double-page spread, five members of an olive-skinned human family sit down to a traditional Shabbat dinner. Unfortunately, the verse is a bit clunky in places, the half-page spreads of brightly colored cartoons don’t mesh together well, and the scene with the human family seems tacked on.

A fine if not deathless choice for Shabbat reading . (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5873-4

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Fun format; bland text.


From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery.


A troop of cats traverse a spooky landscape as they make their way to a party hosted by ghosts.

Each double-page spread shows the felines’ encounters with the likes of an owl, jack-o’-lanterns or a bat. One or two of these creepy meetings may be too abstract for the youngest readers, as the cats hear eerie noises with no discernible source on the page. The text, which consists of one rhyming couplet per scene, mostly scans despite a couple of wobbles: “Five black cats get a bit of a scare / As the flip-flapping wings of a bat fill the air.” The sleek, slightly retro art, likely created using a computer, depicts the cats cavorting at night through a shadowy cityscape, the countryside and a haunted house; they may scare some toddlers and delight others. A brighter color palette would have given the project a friendlier, more universal appeal. Luckily, the well-lit, final party scene provides a playful conclusion.

For toddlers unafraid of typical Halloween imagery. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58925-611-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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