Both lovely and eminently useful.

HERE IS THE WORLD

A YEAR OF JEWISH HOLIDAYS

The year’s range of Jewish holidays and celebrations are presented in this repeating, rhyming chant that features key succinct elements for each.

“Here are your parents, with arms open wide. / Here are your siblings, to stand by your side.” Beginning in early fall, Newman carefully chooses a new baby girl’s naming ceremony, not usually represented in other literature, followed by a Shabbat candle lighting, dinner and visit to the synagogue. She then launches into the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simhat Torah. Winter leads with Hanukkah, followed by Tu B’Shevat and Purim before the traditional spring celebrations of Passover and Shavuot. An early summer Shabbat picnic brings the year full circle. Bookending this annual list with Shabbat observances reflects the significance the Sabbath holds in Judaism. Gal’s illustrations provide a visual narrative, ending with a first birthday party for the baby named at the outset; the story culminates with her family marveling at the “ever-changing world” and wonder of their child. Charcoal drawings enhanced with digital collage create textured, festive scenes for each of the ceremonial traditions. Backmatter explanations fill out the basics (including the bris, or boys’ welcome ceremony) with a specific craft or activity for each holiday.

Both lovely and eminently useful. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1185-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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