Title notwithstanding, this picture book is the polar opposite of Waiting for Godot.
There’s never a moment of doubt that Shabbat is coming. The multiracial Jewish family in the story spends every minute of Friday making sure they’re ready for the Sabbath when the sun goes down. Some of the preparations are deeply spiritual, such as setting aside coins for charity, while others are mundane but necessary. Two pages of the book are devoted to laundry, which is probably two too many. Younger children might prefer to read more about the time spent taking care of Sisi the cat and Daisy the dog, but Grove’s illustrations make up for it. Sisi is having more fun than seems possible, decorating the “SHABBAT SHALOM” poster with paw prints and inventing a game with the coins for the tzedakah box. Sisi’s level of joy could serve as an inspiration to us all. The story will test readers’ patience, almost by definition. Just about every page of the text includes the word “wait.” But that only builds anticipation for the final pages of the book. When readers see the “golden and fluffy” matzo balls and the irises standing “tall in a sparkly vase,” they may feel as joyous as Sisi. In this observant extended family, Daddy and his parents present white, while Mommy and Uncle Bill present black; the protagonist and baby sister Helen have light-brown skin and Afro-textured hair.
Even Beckett might have smiled when he reached the end of the story. Once in a while, waiting is more than worth the effort. (Picture book. 3-5)