A Jewish family celebrates the Sabbath.
Sophie and Seth Fine and their parents, a Jewish family of European descent, enjoy an autumn picnic, hold hands for the motzi blessing, eat challah bread, and explore a barn together on a pleasant autumn Saturday. The story is told in verse that’s too often forced: “The entire Fine family adores Saturdays. / For them, Shabbat’s special in so many ways.” Mai-Wyss’ delicate and muted illustrations, that look to be pencil and watercolor, work well for a quiet fall day, however, giving the endeavor a lift. The pleasure the family takes in its outing and in one another is clear and sweet. Simultaneously publishing is the similarly themed Shh…Shh…Shabbat, by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Evgenia Golubeva. Here, animals notice the sounds of the suburbs and the city on various days of the week leading up to Shabbat. Alliteration abounds as the Turtle listens to trucks on Tuesday, Worm hears whistles and whirring wheels on Wednesday, and so on to the peace of Shabbat. On the final double-page spread, five members of an olive-skinned human family sit down to a traditional Shabbat dinner. Unfortunately, the verse is a bit clunky in places, the half-page spreads of brightly colored cartoons don’t mesh together well, and the scene with the human family seems tacked on.
A fine if not deathless choice for Shabbat reading. (Board book. 2-4)