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

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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Irksome and even a bit dimwitted.

NOT FOR ALL THE HAMANTASCHEN IN TOWN

The three little pigs of fairy-tale fame attend a Purim carnival and once again outwit the big bad wolf.

Rishon, Sheni, and Shlishi (“First,” “Second,” and “Third” in Hebrew) live together in a brick house. Following the fairy-tale pattern, each spends more time and thought than the pig before in making a King Ahasuerus crown. Rishon uses purple paper, Sheni uses poster board, gold foil, and glue, and Shlishi’s is a sturdy papier-mâché. Meanwhile, the big bad wolf smells hamantaschen and decides to go to the carnival to buy some. But wait—without a costume, the sinister-looking wolf with his curled mustache, bushy eyebrows, and fancy laced shoes will be feared and unwelcome. So he decides to steal the crowns, with this familiar-sounding exchange. “Little pig, little pig, give me your crown!” / “Not for all the hamantaschen in town!” / “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your crown off!” The two lightweight crowns blow away, but when the wolf goes to grab Shlishi’s relatively sturdy one, a child dressed as the good Mordechai offers the wolf the evil Haman hat; a bullying lesson ensues. Chernyak’s bright, mixed-media, folk-art–inflected illustrations present an all-animal cast. Unfortunately, at its root this parody makes little sense. If the wolf was willing to steal a crown, readers will wonder why he didn’t just go ahead and steal the hamantaschen?

Irksome and even a bit dimwitted. (recipe, author’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5928-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A suitable introduction for young children to the holiday.

IS IT SUKKOT YET?

Autumnal signs of leaves changing, squirrels foraging and hiding acorns, and cool breezes blowing announce another Jewish fall tradition: the harvest holiday of Sukkot.

Pleasant child-friendly paintings of autumn scenes in hues of orange, yellow, and brown illustrate the simple rhyming text with its repeated, anticipatory refrain “When leaves are all turning bright orange and red // and it’s time for the rakes to come out of our shed… / Sukkot is on its way.” As in the previous books in the series, Is It Passover Yet? and Is it Hanukkah Yet? (both 2015), Barash and Psacharopulo create the proper seasonal atmosphere to build enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming celebration, focusing on the annual construction of the customary hut, or sukkah. Key aspects of the sukkah’s decorations and its special components, such as the natural, green branches for the open roof, the lemony-smelling etrog fruit, and the lulav branch, are mentioned without much explanation. The custom of having meals in the hut is not fully portrayed, though readers see the children sleeping on pillows and blankets in the sukkah while parents look on from the house—an odd choice. The focal family is pale-skinned, and they are joined by dark-skinned friends or family.

A suitable introduction for young children to the holiday. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3388-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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