Although didactic and idealized, this broad interpretation of freedom from a Jewish perspective is one not often seen.

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EMANUEL AND THE HANUKKAH RESCUE

A boy’s insistence on exercising freedom of religion helps an 18th-century Portuguese-Jewish immigrant community openly practice and observe its faith.

Emanuel works with his merchant father offering supplies to the whalers of New Bedford, Mass., and, with dreams of joining a ship when he is older, loves to listen to Captain Henshaw’s adventurous seafaring stories. But his cautious father, scarred by the Spanish Inquisition, tells him that whaling is a dangerous occupation and that Emanuel’s place will be at the store. Emanuel grows weary of his father’s fears. He particularly cannot understand why they do not openly celebrate Shabbat or the eight nights of Hanukkah with their menorah’s candles beaming in the window. On the eighth day of Hanukkah, the determined 9-year-old stows away on Captain Henshaw’s ship, leaving a note expressing his search for freedom. Disaster strikes immediately in the form of a fierce storm that causes the ship to turn back. As suspense builds, the darkness is lit with the numerous flickering menorah candles in the windows of the Jewish homes, guiding the struggling ship and its crew back to shore. Opaque dark-blue– and brown-hued paintings provide a shadowy atmosphere; the chiseled faces of hard-working men are illuminated by candlelight. Emanuel’s New World innocence, untouched by persecution, is reflected in his boyish, smooth face.

Although didactic and idealized, this broad interpretation of freedom from a Jewish perspective is one not often seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6625-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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