This tall tale isn’t quite tall enough.

READ REVIEW

BIG SAM

A ROSH HASHANAH TALL TALE

This holiday story may secretly be a cookbook.

Most of the book doubles as a recipe for challah bread for the Jewish New Year: mix together flour, eggs, and other ingredients. Knead the dough and punch it and let it rise. The quantities, however, are a little odd: “thousands of eggs, and a shovelful of salt.” This is a tall tale, and Big Sam (short for Samson), the title character, is a white Jewish giant. The problem is, for most of the length of the book, the story feels more like a recipe than a tall tale. It’s endearing to see Big Sam use the Grand Canyon as a mixing bowl and bake the bread inside Mount Saint Helens, but the first half of the book doesn’t have a whole lot of conflict—just baking. The drama really starts near the very end, when Sam must clean up the mess he’s made. A pair of eagles begins to scream at him: “You dropped a mountaintop on our forest. You knocked down our trees.” Starr’s paintings of Sam, as he plants new trees and wildflowers, are warm and inviting, and the environmental message is touching, if not subtle. Jewish readers may be grateful for a new, imaginative take on the holiday, but they might also wish it were a bit less repetitive.

This tall tale isn’t quite tall enough. (readers’ guide) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68115-525-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.

GOD GAVE US EASTER

From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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