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Abstract washes of light give way to equally lambent peaceable-kingdom scenes to illustrate Tutu’s rhapsodic retelling of the Bible creation story.

Drawn from his Children of God Storybook Bible (2010), the author’s simply phrased text highlights God’s love—which “bubbled over when there was nothing else”—as the motivating force behind each day’s acts of creation. The indistinct shape of a robed, standing figure can be discerned within the initial burst of radiance and also in later illustrations amid clouds and waves, at the heart of a flower and in the subtly modulated colors of various skies. Along with showers of sparkles in some scenes, Tillman recycles a visual element from her own The Crown on Your Head (2011) by clapping shiny crowns atop the heads of a racially diverse group of smiling children in the final illustrations. Further piling on the sentimentality, she transforms the magnificent, exactly detailed elephants, lions and other animals that pose grandly in earlier pictures to toylike figures at the children’s feet. “Isn’t it wonderful!” concludes God, clapping his hands. Yes, but here the wonder comes with a generous coating of goo. (Religion/picture book. 6-8)


Pub Date: Dec. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-310-72785-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare.

Not even the worthy subject matter can overcome the herky-jerky writing in this rare glimpse into everyday Jewish life.

Over four short chapters, a boy and a girl become good friends in spite of misunderstandings. When Sam overhears that the new kid next door is named Charlie, he’s initially thrilled to find a playmate. To his surprise, he discovers that both Charlie and her little sister Sam (or “Sam Too”) are girls. That makes little difference, though, since Charlie’s a stellar buddy. The chapter on “Sharing” tests that new friendship when both Sam and Charlie crave the last prune hamentaschen. They’re closer after Sam aims to cheer up Charlie on “Sick Day,” but “The Bad Haircut” undoes that good with a callous comment. Finally on “I’m Sorry Day,” aka Yom Kippur, the two apologize, and hilarity ensues. The text’s level of difficulty is ideal for the emerging reader taking baby steps into chapter books, but even the great subject matter (the everyday lives of Jewish kids) can’t make up for abrupt transitions between those chapters, lines like “Friendship is the best medicine,” and odd lessons on losing on purpose to keep a friendship going. Tambellini’s illustrations complement the action beautifully but cannot save the weak writing.

Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7213-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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From the Sadie and Ori series

Children will appreciate the sweet reassurance on display here.

Experienced camper and older sister Sadie helps younger brother Ori get ready for his first year at sleep-away camp.

Sadie loves summer camp, a place where she feels at home with her Jewish friends, acting in plays, playing sports, singing around the campfire and enjoying ice cream sundaes. Seven-year-old Ori will attend this year and, while packing, becomes concerned about taking Nuggles, the favorite stuffed animal he has slept with since birth. Though Sadie assures him that bringing Nuggles will be OK, Ori worries that “the kids will think I’m a baby.” After a trial night at home without Nuggles, Ori cannot sleep and decides to pack the stuffed zebra. Trepidation turns to a welcome surprise when he arrives at camp and sees his bunkmates, each cuddling or sitting with his own beloved “stuffy.” Korngold’s talent for taking stressful childhood moments and developing them into simple yet satisfying storylines continues to be in evidence in this fifth installment of her Sadie and Ori series. Though briefly alluding to the Jewish camping experience through one double-page spread highlighting a Shabbat candle lighting and the occasional yarmulke, this should serve most new and first-time campers well in providing a positive response to the anxiety that inevitably accompanies excitement at leaving home. Gentle, loosely defined paintings depict a middle-class home and woodsy camp.

Children will appreciate the sweet reassurance on display here. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0424-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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