A graceful observation of various calm and loving animal and human homes.
In this pleasant, nature-inspired board book, readers see various animals living in “shalom bayit”—“quiet places, peaceful homes”—before the book closes on a human Jewish family relaxing in their house. Peppy rhyming couplets—“A turtle makes a sandy mound. / A worm lives safely underground”—have a nice sound to them, and the short tidbits of information they impart about the different habitats and shelters of disparate forest animals are accurate. With sweetly anthropomorphized animals, complete with serene smiles and rosy cheeks, this is nature at its most passive and tranquil. Gauzy, multilayered illustrations feel inspired by the indistinct look of watercolors, and there’s plenty of charm in the busy landscapes and scurrying gray squirrels or big-eared mice. Botanical elements are especially well rendered. At points, this chill vibe feels too sedate, especially when it extends to the scene with the human family, as those three kids sitting suspiciously still in their tidy living room may not exactly mirror reality. While the book’s connection to its overall concept of “shalom bayit,” or domestic harmony, feels rather tenuous, it may speak to some Jewish households and would be a welcome book for any nature-loving toddler.
Likable art and a peaceable concept. (Board book. 2-4)