Warm-spirited family holiday togetherness

READ REVIEW

KOALA CHALLAH

Set in Australia, this take on baking a traditional Jewish food focuses on a family of koalas.

Little sister Lila is eager to help her koala family prepare for the Friday night Shabbat celebration, but her efforts are more messy than useful. “Koala bears love eucalyptus!” and so Lila tries to make eucalyptus candles, unsuccessfully. Her attempts to make wine with eucalyptus leave a messy kitchen, as does her craft project to adorn the dinner table. Finally, Lila gets permission to bake a challah, the traditional braided egg bread served for the Sabbath, provided she practices. Each night, starting on Sunday, she bakes but puts in too much or too little from the ingredient list. On Friday, she finally succeeds in baking a delicious bread with the addition of that very special koala favorite, and the family sits down to a wonderful holiday dinner. Lila’s father wears a kippah on his head, showing that they are observant. Both families who hold Sabbath dinners and those who do not will enjoy Lila’s efforts to contribute. Placing the story in an unusual setting should lead to discussions about variations in food preparation and long-cherished customs. Mola’s colorful, full-bleed illustrations fill in some of the details of the recipe not in the text and add to the enjoyment.

Warm-spirited family holiday togetherness . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2087-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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