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Family, food, and festivities—what more could readers want?

Join Beni the bear and his family as they celebrate a full year of Jewish holidays.

On the first night of Hanukkah, Beni and his observant Jewish family share food, remembrances, and presents for all the young ones. Beni gives each cub a calendar highlighting the Jewish holidays. His plan is to introduce each holiday in turn and make up a “tiny tale” for each one, beginning with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, which usually occurs in September. Beni starts the discussion of every holiday with information about its meaning and origins and the manner in which it is observed. These facts are followed by the promised tiny tale describing an amusing holiday memory and emphasizing loving, multigenerational family dynamics involving everyone from great-grandparents down to babies; often, a gentle moral is included. Mouthwatering recipes, activities, and songs round out the chapters. The clear, simple, and accessible narration is peppered with Yiddish and Hebrew expressions that add zest to the proceedings. Softly hued, detailed artwork subtly depicts the bears’ emotions and provides touches of humor as they take part in rituals and celebrations and interact at home, in the community, and in the synagogue. An illustrated holiday calendar, a family tree, and a portrait naming all the members of Beni’s family add depth to the work. Young readers and their grown-ups will find much to savor here.

Family, food, and festivities—what more could readers want? (glossary, index) (Activity book/religion. 5-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9780316331777

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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From the How To Catch… series

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses.

An elusive new quarry leads the How To Catch… kids on a merry chase through a natural history museum.

Taking at least a step away from the “hunters versus prey” vibe of previous entries in the popular series, the racially diverse group of young visitors dashes through various museum halls in pursuit of the eponymous dino—whose quest to “spread kindness and joy ’round the world” takes the form of a mildly tumultuous museum tour. In most of Elkerton’s overly sweet, color-saturated scenes, only portions of the Loveosaurus, who is purple and covered with pink hearts, are visible behind exhibits or lumbering off the page. But the children find small enticements left behind, from craft supplies to make cards for endangered species to pictures of smiley faces, candy heart–style personal notes (“You Rock!” “Give Hugs”), and, in the hall of medieval arms and armor, a sign urging them to “Be Honest Be Kind.” The somewhat heavy-handed lesson comes through loud and clear. “There’s a message, he wants us to think,” hints Walstead to clue in more obtuse readers…and concluding scenes of smiling people young and otherwise exchanging hugs and knuckle bumps, holding doors for a wheelchair rider, and dancing through clouds of sparkles indicate that they, at least, have gotten it. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sugary uplift, shrink-wrapped for the masses. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9781728268781

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote.

The children of fictional Stanton Elementary School educate themselves and their community about the vote in this picture book.

With its illustrations of simple shapes in bright colors imbuing a sense of positive action and a diverse cast of characters, this picture book rocks—and that’s even before the narrative takes hold. When Stanton’s students learn that their school becomes a polling station every two years, they want to be part of it—but learn they can’t vote until they are 18. Undeterred, they take action. The kids do their research and then engage their community to encourage those of voting age to go to the polls. They go door to door with voter-guide pamphlets, they hold a bake sale (with clever reminders like “Donut forget to vote”), and remind their families to vote. Each child-empowering scenario is paired with an adult’s excuse (“I’ll be away”; “I’m not even registered”; “I can’t walk so far”), and with each comment, the kids have an answer that draws on their research: “You can vote by mail”; “It’s not hard to register”; “A volunteer can drive you!” These kids mean business; it’s their future after all. Children and adults depicted represent a range of skin colors, hair textures, and gender presentations; one girl and her aunt wear hijab. Backmatter includes a quick listing of kid-relevant federal legislation.

Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9280-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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