SARAH LAUGHS

The beautiful and gentle Sarah married Abraham and joined him on his nomadic life where they led families through the desert, teaching a monotheistic faith in “a God who demanded kindness and good deeds.” In Canaan, Abraham became a wealthy man, while the couple built a happy life together welcoming guests into their tent to share in their food and company. Even so, the absence of a child “smothered the laughter” in Sarah’s heart. Selflessly, she encouraged her husband to father a child (Ishmael) with the servant Hagar in order to realize God’s promise of an abundance of offspring. The author/illustrator team continues their Old Testament series with this midrash-inspired interpretation of the older Sarah’s late entrance to parenthood with the joyful birth of her own son, Isaac. Mellifluous full-page spreads in tones of green and blue pastel/crayon media depict the lyrically told story of this Jewish matriarch who believed her childbearing years had passed. An accessible rendition of the ancient biblical text for young religiously oriented listeners. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8225-7216-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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RUNAWAY DREIDEL!

Readers certainly don’t need to be familiar with the poem “The Night Before Christmas” or with the alternative lyrics to “On Top of Old Smokey” (about the runaway meatball) to appreciate the humor of this Chanukah offering, but it wouldn’t hurt. Owing its rhythm to the former and its plot to the latter, this hilarious take-off has a delicious flavor all its own. ’Twas the first night of Chanukah when a boy’s shiny new dreidel makes a run for it. “It spun past a shoe store and past a boutique / It spun past two delis, one kosher, one Greek.” When the dreidel leaves Brooklyn and heads for the hills, the scenery begins to look more like a Russian shtetl than anywhere in North America. Brooker’s (Isabella Abnormella and the Very, Very Finicky Queen of Trouble, 2000, etc.) madly tilting, fanciful oil and cut-paper collage illustrations are wonderfully textured and full of fabulous details: buttons that look like Greek coins, shirts and dresses cut from wallpaper, and a gift for grandpa in a Tiffany’s signature box. When the dreidel decides to go into orbit—“It sparkled and glittered and twinkled and shone / Like a jewel in the crown of a queen on a throne”—everyone goes home to celebrate the holiday. Naturally, Newman (Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, p. 738, etc.) ends with a nod to that well-known Christmas poem. A lively Chanukah romp that can be enjoyed by every denomination. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8050-6237-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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