It would be easy to call this picture book two stories in one, but that would be glib and irresponsibly reductive.
This picture book is a guide to the Jewish holidays (complete with directions for making raisin challah on Rosh Hashanah), and it’s a story about a grandmother who knits the titular blue blanket for her grandchildren. But this is really just one book. It’s a story about the passage of time. After a number of holidays have gone by, Ori asks, “Why can’t you play with us like you used to?” Grandma says: “That is part of growing older. I can still sit down on the floor, but I can’t get back up.” Grandma is laughing, but some readers will find the story unbearably sad. Soon, she can’t remember places or names. Some people may also consider the book sentimental. When Grandma cuddles under her blue blanket with the children, she calls it their “Together Blanket,” and the words appear in bold, blue letters whenever mentioned in the text. The story also moves quite slowly, dwelling on the details of each holiday, which is apt in a book about time but often frustrating. Still, it’s hard not to be charmed by Fortenberry’s simple, symmetrical paintings, and it’s hard not to be moved when Sadie and Ori read Grandma the stories she once told them.
Korngold and Fortenberry move beyond sentimentality to real sentiment. (Picture book. 4-8)