THE STORY OF QUEEN ESTHER

When the powerful king of Persia, Ahasuerus, decides to take a wife, he chooses the beautiful Esther. Esther hides her Jewish identity on the advice of her cousin, Mordecai, who claims that many in the palace “hate Jews because we were once their enemies.” The villainous Haman, Grand Vizier to the King, is angered by Mordecai, who refuses to bow before anyone but God. Haman’s revenge is to convince the King to order all Jews killed. Esther then bravely intervenes, risking her own demise, to save her people. The classic biblical story, commemorated each year with the Jewish holiday of Purim and the reading of the Megillah (the Book of Esther), is told with lucid intrigue, painting a picture of an evil rogue outwitted by the wisdom and courage of a loving Queen. Multiple scenes across full-page spreads, done in deep pastel colors of blues, purples and reds, portray an assortment of tall, handsome characters with lean, pointy-chinned faces, long, flowing hair and dark skin. A well-composed and aesthetic interpretation for the younger set. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5348-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households.

LATKE, THE LUCKY DOG

A rescued dog chosen as a Hanukkah present at an animal shelter relates his good luck as he learns to adapt to his new family and home.

Zoe and Zach welcome their new pet, a playful, medium-sized, golden-brown dog, and name him Latke (he’s exactly the color of one). The newest member of the family assumes all the celebratory aspects of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday are just for him and innocently creates a mild disturbance on each night. Latke eats the sufganiyot and latkes, rips open presents, chews up the dreidels and candles, slobbers all over the chocolate gelt and knocks the bowl of applesauce over. With each mishap, Zoe and Zach find a way to forgive, letting the curious new dog know he is very fortunate indeed. Ever remorseful, Latke finally accepts his own gift of a chew toy and understands he is one lucky dog to be part of a great family. Latke relates his own story, folding his innocent misdeeds into the basic structure of the eight nights of remembrance. Simple, childlike gouache scenes favor the star of the story, a sweet and personable mutt sporting floppy black ears against a brown happy face. He has rather more personality than the overall presentation, which cannot shed its inherent didacticism.

Though it’s fairly unoriginal at its core, this story’s charismatic star will have appeal in dog-loving households. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9038-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets.

GROVER AND BIG BIRD'S PASSOVER CELEBRATION

The well-known Sesame Street characters visit Israel and impart information about the Passover holiday and story while on their way to a seder at the home of friends Avigail and Brosh.

After a flat tire on the bus, Grover and Big Bird decide to walk, only to get lost. On the way, they help a boy catch his runaway dog, carry groceries for an elderly woman, and convince the grouchy Moishe Oofnik to finally give them a ride to the seder with the promise of eating bitter herbs. “My favorite! Hop in.”  Forced segues within this light-as-a-feather plot lead to snippets of information about the holiday and the celebratory dinner’s traditions, such as the Four Questions, the afikomen ritual and the theme of freedom. For example, worried about being late, Big Bird frets, “Yes, but now we’d really better hurry.” Grover replies, “Did you know…that the Jewish people were in a hurry when they followed Moses out of Egypt?” Familiar Muppet figures fill the commercial-looking illustrations. Bold primary colors depict Grover and Big Bird’s journey; thought-bubble sequences of the ancient Exodus are populated by bewildered-looking generic Muppet faces. Once the seder is complete, an enlightened Big Bird expresses his appreciation and wish to celebrate next year in Jerusalem.

Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8491-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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