Skip this treacle and opt for Rachel Rivett and Mique Moriuchi’s I Imagine (2011) or Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Sean Qualls'...

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EVERY WHICH WAY TO PRAY

A couple of young hippopotami receive instruction in the ease and pleasure of prayer in this vapid if well-meant outing.

When Harley and Hayley spot a silhouetted pelican sitting on a roof, they think it's an angel. Upon realizing that Pouch is corporeal, Harley is disappointed. He had momentarily hoped to have a close encounter with heaven, but, "We'll NEVER get that close to God." Not so, burbles Pouch. Anyone can be close to God. "That's what prayer is for!" But Harley's book, The Rules of Prayer, say that prayer is hard, he protests. Pouch is joined by a group of kibitzing animals who, rule by rule, contradict the prescriptions in the book and offer liberating encouragement. You don't have to wear special clothes or be in a special place; you don't have to kneel or fold your hands (an especial problem for animals); you can shout and laugh in your prayers. The text is purely pedestrian, unfurling line after line of purposive dialogue. The illustrations are bland cartoons with little to no subtlety in composition, color or expression. The result is a wholly didactic package that delivers a positive and worthwhile message with no art whatsoever.

Skip this treacle and opt for Rachel Rivett and Mique Moriuchi’s I Imagine (2011) or Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Sean Qualls' Who Will I Be, Lord? (2009) for more artful treatments of children's communication with God. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72317-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable

PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE

A mouse searches for and finally finds her missing Seder plate.

Pippa is an industrious house-cleaning mouse. And no wonder—Passover is starting this very evening. Dusting and sweeping finished, she turns her attention to setting the table as a pot of chicken stew bubbles away on the stovetop. But there is one very important object that is missing: the “special Seder plate.” Frantically, the mouse searches through boxes and cupboards and finally ventures into the yard. First she encounters a very large cat and asks if it has seen the plate. “No,” answers the cat and points her to a snake, who sends her to an owl, who directs her to Golda Fish, prettily swimming in the water. Success! Kirkfield’s little tale is written in rhyming couplets with much repetition of “QUIVER! QUAVER! SHIVER! SHAKE!” for emphasis with each interaction with a predator, so readers will be mightily puzzled when the formerly frightful critters join Pippa at the holiday table. Weber’s gouache, crayon, and collage illustrations are sweetly pretty. The final illustration features a Seder plate with transliterated Hebrew and an English translation of the components. Readers familiar with the holiday may find this mildly enjoyable, but others will likely want and need more information.

In the end too much is left unanswered, making this book pleasant but only passable . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4162-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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