Although readers may not find the book to be as diversely populated as it promises, it succeeds beautifully as a joyous...

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WE ARE JEWISH FACES

Darvick complements her photo essay I Love Jewish Faces (2006) with this similar celebration of multiethnic Jews.

A sequence of clear color photographs described in 90 words that are divided into two- to four-word phrases conveys a simple view of the multiplicity of American Jewry. They are members of families, celebrate the holidays, lead daily lives of play, study, and accomplishment, and react with smiles or tears to various circumstances. The book begins with the recurring sentence “We are JEWISH faces,” which shows a smiling little redheaded white boy holding a torah scroll. Turn the page and a set of white grandparents—“BUBBE faces” and “ZAYDE faces”—appears. A couple of pages in, four brown-skinned Yemeni children in national dress accompany the phrase “faces of all RACES and PLACES.” (Readers will need to check the credits on the copyright page in order to discern this group’s origins.) Darvick’s intention is to demonstrate “the diversity of what ‘Jewish faces’ look like,” as interracial adoption and conversion challenge easy assumptions. Her apparent concentration on American suburban settings limits her purpose, however, as relatively few people of color are shown. In addition to the Yemeni children, a few children clearly present Asian and one African-American; other, olive-skinned faces are a bit more ambiguous. Other types of diversity, such as in disability or sexual orientation, are not at all in evidence.

Although readers may not find the book to be as diversely populated as it promises, it succeeds beautifully as a joyous portrayal of Jewish-oriented life. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68115-536-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A sumptuous work filled with a deliciously wrapped center—perfect for classrooms, school, public, or church libraries, or...

THE WATCHER

When the chaos of life threatens to overtake your soul, a simple psalm can soothe you.

In this picture book, Wilder Award–winning author Grimes delivers a compact yet powerful message of hope and encouragement based on Psalm 121. Short poems energized with kindness, despair, hope, regret, and acceptance are delivered using a style she describes in the back of the book as “the golden shovel,” a form she also used in One Last Word (2017). Grimes defines this form as using a portion of an existing poem and arranging it in such a way that the end words of each line form a short sentence from the original poem. Using the words from the psalm, woven with carefully crafted words of her own, she tells the story of Jordan and Tanya, two elementary school children struggling with fitting in, trying to survive. Tanya, a black girl, stutters and compensates with meanness; while Jordan, a shy and quiet white boy, just wants to make a friend. Tanya feels the constant brunt of others' lack of compassion and directs that anger toward Jordan. Collier’s exquisite artwork combines soft, delicate brush strokes with lively photo collages. The effect is both hyper-realistic and gauzily surreal, a perfect complement to Grimes’ poems.

A sumptuous work filled with a deliciously wrapped center—perfect for classrooms, school, public, or church libraries, or home: wherever hearts go for mending. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5445-2

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Perfect for Earth Day and every day.

A BASKET FULL OF FIGS

A Roman emperor learns the importance of respecting generations.

“The mighty Emperor Hadrian” rides through a small village on his great steed, causing fear in the inhabitants. But then a very old man emerges, carrying a small fig tree to plant. Hadrian is quite astounded, for the man is almost 100 years old and certainly will not live long enough to enjoy the fruit. The man explains that past generations left many fruit trees for him to enjoy, and he is doing the same for future generations. Three years pass, and the emperor returns to that same village, again causing fear. Except, of course, for that old man, who now happily holds a basket brimming with figs. He invites the emperor to enjoy some, just as his family has been able to do. When the emperor is sated, he remounts his horse, and the old man peers into the basket. The contents are no longer figs—they are gold coins. But for the old man, the true gift is the grove of fruit trees flourishing “for generations to come.” Elon’s lovely little tale, translated from the Hebrew, is adapted from the Midrash, stories that provide commentary on Hebrew Scriptures. Halberstadt’s artwork, resembling a pen-and-ink style, is expressive and not time-specific, mixing Hadrian’s Roman armor with mid-20th-century Mediterranean peasant garb. A duck provides silent but humorous asides. The emperor and old man both have pale skin, but there are children of color in the old man’s village.

Perfect for Earth Day and every day. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78438-472-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Green Bean Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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