A circus monkey helps a family celebrate a Jewish holiday.
Yossi, a good husband and father, is too poor to provide for his family for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot, which commemorates God’s gift of the Torah to the Jews, is celebrated in May or June, seven weeks after Passover. (Its Hebrew meaning is “weeks.”) In order to make money, Yossi’s wife suggests that he sell some of her hand-made kippahs—the skullcaps worn by observant Jewish men (also called yarmulkes). His salesmanship efforts are unsuccessful, and so he takes a nap under a tree in which a curious monkey sits. All good readers of Caps for Sale will know what follows. This is a good monkey, though, and when passers-by offer Yossi both money for the kippahs and extra for the monkey’s antics, the monkey hands them over. Man and monkey become friends, with Yossi selling more of his wife’s handiwork and Zelig (“blessing” in Hebrew) the monkey entertaining the crowds. Yossi, his family, and Zelig celebrate with challah and cheese blintzes (dairy foods are a holiday tradition), and Zelig joins the family—though he temporarily rejoins the circus from which he escaped every year when it comes to town. Waisman’s comically busy illustrations set the story in an all-white Eastern European village of long ago.
An entertaining holiday tale of a man and his monkey. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)