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THE BEST SUKKOT PUMPKIN EVER

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

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 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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VALENTINE'S DAY, HERE I COME!

From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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HOW TO CATCH A WITCH

Not enough tricks to make this a treat.

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 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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