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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 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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