A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.

ALMOST A MINYAN

In this illustrated, rhyming children’s book, a nearly 13-year-old Jewish girl portrays her family and religious traditions as she readies to join a minyan.

The unnamed girl who narrates this story lives in a town with only one shul (synagogue) that isn’t always full, so forming a minyan—a group of 10 adults, required in Judaism to make a quorum for communal worship—can sometimes be difficult. The girl’s father goes to the shul every morning with his worn tallis, a prayer shawl, and his tefillin, a set of leather boxes containing scrolls with verses from the Torah. (The book includes a glossary that defines words that may be unfamiliar.) But sometimes there are not quite enough people to form a minyan, so the girl looks forward to joining it when she’s old enough in less than a year. The girl explains more about the shul and the prayers, and how her zayde (grandfather) joins the family on Shabbos (the Sabbath day, which starts on Friday night) before going to the shul with her father. When her zayde dies, people gather at the house, making another minyan for prayers. One morning, the girl’s father announces that it’s time for her to join. She protests she’s too young, but “ ‘Your Hebrew birthday,’ he said with a smile, / ‘began at sundown—it’s been here awhile!’ ” Her father allays her anxieties and gives her zayde’s tallis and tefillin. At last, “Papa smiled proudly—he teared up again. / Then, grinning, he told me, ‘Today, you make ten.’ ” Kline (Josiah’s Dreams, 2014) portrays the girl’s coming-of-age and her being counted among her shul’s adults with great warmth, and also highlights her closeness to beloved Papa. The girl’s mother plays almost no role in the story, which is a little puzzling, but the shul looks joyful, with Simon’s (No Rules for Michael, 2003, etc.) illustrations showing a kind, friendly, welcoming community with the people drawn in comfortably rounded shapes; in appearance, they appear to come from diverse Ashkenazi and Sephardic backgrounds. However, the highlights on the girl’s dark hair make it look gray and elderly, which may be confusing. Also, the usual young audience for a picture book doesn’t seem best suited for a tween’s story.

A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Sociosights Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

more