Funny, devout and oh, so human; this collection hits home.

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GOD GOT A DOG

Several of the poems from Rylant’s wry meditation God Went to Beauty School (2003) are regathered, rearranged and luminously illustrated by Frazee.

Notably absent is the poem “God Is a Girl,” as Rylant has expanded that notion by occasionally regendering the deity so He becomes She in roughly half the poems. In the titular poem, readers learn that “She never meant to. / … / She was always working / and dogs needed so / much attention. / God didn’t know if She / could take being needed / by one more thing.” Frazee’s illustrations take the idea of the multiplicity of God in all of us and run with it, depicting Him or Her as a black, tattooed nail artist; a middle-aged white woman eating by herself; a little dark-skinned boy on roller skates (with hair sticking straight! up!); a bearded, dark-skinned dude playing poker with Gabriel; a homeless black woman. An illustration appears opposite each poem, allowing readers to stop and ponder each of God’s earthly aspects. Divinity is indicated with a faint halo, but Frazee never sacrifices the ineffable humanity of each depiction; her Gods are fat, skinny, joyful, contemplative, worn-out. Readers will be glad and relieved when they turn the final page to learn that, having adopted Ernie the dog, God now “has somebody / keeping Her feet warm at night.”

Funny, devout and oh, so human; this collection hits home. (Poetry. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6518-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A lovely collection that will inspire both discussion and contemplation.

THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF JEWISH TALES

Judaism’s long tradition of teaching through storytelling is affirmed in these eight tales steeped in ethics, morality and belief.

The fluidly told, extended narratives reflect mostly the Eastern European or Hasidic canon. Some will be familiar, as they appear in other collections or picture-book versions. Behavior and personal choice is the theme of the parable “The Prince Who Thought He Was a Rooster,” which was also seen in Ann Redisch Stampler and Eugene Yelchin’s The Rooster Prince of Breslov (2010). “Challah in the Ark” recalls Aubrey Davis and Dusan Petricic’s tale of generosity, Bagels from Benny (2003). And Debby Waldman’s 2009 version of Clever Rachel is echoed in the story of the same title, with its message of coupling kindness with intelligent cooperation. Others, such as “The Boy Who Prayed the Alphabet” and “Elijah’s Wisdom,” will be valued for their simple messages of heartfelt belief and justice based on proper action. The folkloric narrative style often employs the familiar European motif of “three,” delivering the plots with a patient tone and rabbinical perspective. The accompanying CD presents actress Debra Messing’s readings, her calm, mellifluous voice bringing out each story’s essence. Similarly, each tale’s tenor is individually enhanced through intrinsic borders and paintings created in watercolor ink, pastel, pencil crayon and digital layering.

A lovely collection that will inspire both discussion and contemplation. (references, sources) (Folk tales. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84686-884-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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