A simple Sukkot story that focuses on the concept of helping those in need.

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THE BEST SUKKOT PUMPKIN EVER

Many families from Micah’s synagogue are picking pumpkins for a soup kitchen.

Micah asks his mother, “What’s a soup kitchen?” She explains, and his dad adds the definition of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of doing good deeds, or “repairing the world.” As a reward for their good work, each child will receive a pumpkin. Micah wants to find a large one for Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival. After picking pumpkins all day, he finally gets ready to choose, but when he finds a gigantic one, he remembers the soup kitchen. Farmer Jared gently tells him that the big pumpkins are not good for cooking but can be used to make “a wonderful decoration.” The boy finds “a perfect little pumpkin” and dreams of his Sukkot meal but realizes that his family has enough food and other people need the perfect pumpkin more than he does. He adds it to the donations and accidentally steps on a rotten pumpkin. As the farmer explains that this pumpkin will serve as compost, Micah discovers the best pumpkin of all—the seeds to grow his own—“for next year.” Micah and his family are white, but there are Asian and black synagogue members. There are few details about the celebration, but the colorful paintings are humorous and show the sukkah with its harvest decorations.

A simple Sukkot story that focuses on the concept of helping those in need. (afterword, activities) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0865-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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