Though not much of a challenge, Lena’s detective work helps solve the mystery of a rabbi’s professional life from a child’s...


Young Lena, an aspiring detective, secretly observes the rabbi of her synagogue doing his numerous tasks and performing his varied responsibilities.

As Lena and her dog assistant, Sandy, crouch behind a bush with dark glasses and a notepad, “the mysterious rabbi…seems to be everywhere.” His many jobs include teaching, conducting ceremonies, celebrating holidays, providing comfort and advice, and participating in the overall life of his Jewish community. Though he may seem like a “superhero,” Lena acknowledges the rabbi’s peculiarities. He “slurps spaghetti,” strews his floor with dirty socks, and even attends playtime tea parties (at which he looks “quite elegant”). Lena discovers a lot, declaring, “Rabbi Max is just one AWESOME PERSON”—but what endears him to her most is that, as his daughter, she can “slurp spaghetti right beside him” at the dinner table. Childlike cartoon drawings reflect a multigenerational suburban Jewish community; Rabbi Max, his daughter, and their family present white, but the broader congregation is racially diverse, and at least one member uses a wheelchair. An author’s note includes four questions for discussion to extend the basic information presented through Lena’s narration.

Though not much of a challenge, Lena’s detective work helps solve the mystery of a rabbi’s professional life from a child’s perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68115-543-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday.


An alphabet book employs a series of riddles and puzzles to engage children in the recognition of the various aspects of the Passover holiday.

An initial search to find all the letters in a double-page illustration features a typical table set for the Seder meal. This is followed by 24 rhymed questions posed in alphabetical order that present a variety of customs, symbols, characters, and concepts of the holiday. For example, the letter B is represented by “Baby Moses,” and readers are asked to choose the correct boat used to float the baby on the Nile. Children are offered a multiple-choice assortment of picture clues that are drawn in a clear, simple cartoon style. In the case of Moses, the vessels include a leaf, a cardboard box, a woven basket, an inner tube, a rowboat, and a rubber ducky. Some of the inquiries are straightforward or obvious for the holiday, while others, such as the page that addresses slavery, require some thinking and possible discussion. A variety of methods are also used to achieve the answers, such as solving a maze and reading a map. Others may require actual knowledge of the subject posed, such as the one on the 15th of Nisan, the Hebrew day and month that Passover begins. Together these short games can be used as an impetus to discuss the holiday's story and significance or to retell its various aspects.

A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday. (author’s note, answer key) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7843-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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An average version of an extraordinary tale.



Mora retells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On a cold day in December, Rose and her friend Terry are visiting Rose’s Grandma Lupita. After teaching Terry how to make paper flowers, the older woman begins telling them the story of the Lady of Guadalupe. The author keeps the tale simple enough for the book’s intended early-elementary audience, as she relates how the poor Juan Diego first met the Lady on Tepeyac Hill, outside of what is now Mexico City. Juan Diego follows the Lady’s request to go to the bishop and “ask him to build a special church for her on the hilltop.” The bishop requests a sign, which the Lady eventually provides to Juan Diego in the form of roses and her image on his tilma (cloak). The story returns to the present day, and Grandma Lupita and the girls share rose cookies in her kitchen. Although framing the famous Mexican story within a modern-day setting may appeal to some readers, doing so also removes some of the tale’s potency and leaves the text riddled with quotation marks. While vividly colored, the artwork by Johnson and Fancher often falls flat in the frame story, though placing the illustrations of the tale-within-the-tale within colorful borders is a nice feature.

An average version of an extraordinary tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86838-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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