A moving update of a powerful story.

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GABRIEL'S HORN

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, a white Jewish boy receives the unusual responsibility of caring for an old, tarnished horn and wonders if his family’s subsequent good fortune could be the result of how he carries out his charge.

Hard times have hit Gabriel’s neighborhood. Many stores surrounding his family’s antiques shop have closed, though Gabriel hopes the new year will bring a turnaround. Then an African-American soldier knocks and hands Gabriel an old neglected horn that belonged to the enlisted man’s grandfather, requesting that the antiques-store owners keep it during his deployment. Kimmel has updated his story “The Samovar,” which appeared in the collection Days of Awe (1991), about the legendary character Elijah who can take on numerous disguises—like a soldier—to help and influence those less fortunate. The Czarist Russian setting is remade into a contemporary American integrated urban community of Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian residents. Over the years Gabriel engages in tzedakah (acts of charity), and the horn magically brightens each time until its gleaming shine represents Gabriel’s family’s kindness and new prosperity. Kimmel’s shorter, more dialogue-driven narrative carries readers to an understanding of Gabriel’s revelation seven years later, when the soldier returns.

A moving update of a powerful story. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-8936-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday.

ABC PASSOVER HUNT

An alphabet book employs a series of riddles and puzzles to engage children in the recognition of the various aspects of the Passover holiday.

An initial search to find all the letters in a double-page illustration features a typical table set for the Seder meal. This is followed by 24 rhymed questions posed in alphabetical order that present a variety of customs, symbols, characters, and concepts of the holiday. For example, the letter B is represented by “Baby Moses,” and readers are asked to choose the correct boat used to float the baby on the Nile. Children are offered a multiple-choice assortment of picture clues that are drawn in a clear, simple cartoon style. In the case of Moses, the vessels include a leaf, a cardboard box, a woven basket, an inner tube, a rowboat, and a rubber ducky. Some of the inquiries are straightforward or obvious for the holiday, while others, such as the page that addresses slavery, require some thinking and possible discussion. A variety of methods are also used to achieve the answers, such as solving a maze and reading a map. Others may require actual knowledge of the subject posed, such as the one on the 15th of Nisan, the Hebrew day and month that Passover begins. Together these short games can be used as an impetus to discuss the holiday's story and significance or to retell its various aspects.

A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday. (author’s note, answer key) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7843-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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An average version of an extraordinary tale.

THE BEAUTIFUL LADY

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Mora retells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On a cold day in December, Rose and her friend Terry are visiting Rose’s Grandma Lupita. After teaching Terry how to make paper flowers, the older woman begins telling them the story of the Lady of Guadalupe. The author keeps the tale simple enough for the book’s intended early-elementary audience, as she relates how the poor Juan Diego first met the Lady on Tepeyac Hill, outside of what is now Mexico City. Juan Diego follows the Lady’s request to go to the bishop and “ask him to build a special church for her on the hilltop.” The bishop requests a sign, which the Lady eventually provides to Juan Diego in the form of roses and her image on his tilma (cloak). The story returns to the present day, and Grandma Lupita and the girls share rose cookies in her kitchen. Although framing the famous Mexican story within a modern-day setting may appeal to some readers, doing so also removes some of the tale’s potency and leaves the text riddled with quotation marks. While vividly colored, the artwork by Johnson and Fancher often falls flat in the frame story, though placing the illustrations of the tale-within-the-tale within colorful borders is a nice feature.

An average version of an extraordinary tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86838-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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