A book that fits moving scenes, puzzles, and mice into the same story is an excellent addition to the Jewish tradition.

THE PASSOVER MOUSE

This animal story may help explain why Jews became known as the People of the Book: Even the holiest books might include jokes or fables or riddles.

This picture book, arguably, includes all three. It’s a very silly story about a very serious problem. Wieder explains that, when they’re preparing for the holiday of Passover, observant Jews are required “to remove all leavened food, or chometz—down to the last bread crumb!” Fastidious Jews are never certain when it’s safe to stop searching. The Babylonian Talmud addressed the issue with a sort of brainteaser, paraphrased in the author’s note at the end of this book: “The Jewish sages discussed the possibility of mice bringing chometz into a house that had already been searched for it.” Kober takes the passage as an opportunity to paint utterly adorable mice with heads shaped like apostrophes. (He also finds a surprising variety of shades in the skin tones of the human Jewish villagers.) And the author not only works in a chase scene, with townspeople and a cat, but somehow makes a quote from the Talmud seem like a punchline. The endless arguments about cats and mice concludes with: “…This question is not decided.” But the story ends on a touching note, as the whole village joins together in a last-minute search for breadcrumbs.

A book that fits moving scenes, puzzles, and mice into the same story is an excellent addition to the Jewish tradition. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9551-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along.

THE CRAYONS TRICK OR TREAT

The Crayons return in time for Halloween as vampire-costumed Purple coaches the dressed-up wax pack through its first trick-or-treating venture.

It takes five houses’ worth of door-knocks for this skeleton crew of seven to perfect the protocol, with enough outlandish flubs to generate giggles in Halloween-savvy preschoolers. At Door No. 1, Orange, dressed as a jack-o’-lantern, says, “Give us your candy, Lady.” At the next, the gang, encouraged by Purple to “think holiday,” responds with an impressive array of misguided greetings, including “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy American Cheese Month!” Later, White, levitating impressively in a ghost costume, overreacts to Halloween’s “scary” aspect by overwhelming residents with a “BOO!” Peach, unnamed here but recognizably wrapperless from the initial title, exuberantly (and inappropriately) repeats, “I’m naked!” Finally, the troupe perfects its treat-inducing line, though a certain ghost cannot resist an ad lib. This excursion, like many of the holiday-themed Crayon books, has a smaller trim size, a lower price point, and far less complexity than Daywalt and Jeffers’ first two Crayon titles. Still, the pair deftly let young children in on the jokes through funny, hand-lettered dialogue and the visually telegraphed, all-in haplessness of this well-branded band. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-62102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Another holiday title (How To Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Elkerton, 2017) sticks to the popular series’ formula.

Rhyming four-line verses describe seven intrepid trick-or-treaters’ efforts to capture the witch haunting their Halloween. Rhyming roadblocks with toolbox is an acceptable stretch, but too often too many words or syllables in the lines throw off the cadence. Children familiar with earlier titles will recognize the traps set by the costume-clad kids—a pulley and box snare, a “Tunnel of Tricks.” Eventually they accept her invitation to “floss, bump, and boogie,” concluding “the dance party had hit the finale at last, / each dancing monster started to cheer! / There’s no doubt about it, we have to admit: / This witch threw the party of the year!” The kids are diverse, and their costumes are fanciful rather than scary—a unicorn, a dragon, a scarecrow, a red-haired child in a lab coat and bow tie, a wizard, and two space creatures. The monsters, goblins, ghosts, and jack-o'-lanterns, backgrounded by a turquoise and purple night sky, are sufficiently eerie. Still, there isn’t enough originality here to entice any but the most ardent fans of Halloween or the series. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not enough tricks to make this a treat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72821-035-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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