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SQUIRRELED AWAY

From the Dead Sea Squirrels series

Fans of such characters as Big Nate and Stink will likely enjoy the silly humor and adventures in this series opener, while...

A humorous early chapter book featuring childish adventures, biblical concepts, and Christian life.

This outing is the first in the planned Dead Sea Squirrels series by the co-creator of Veggie Tales. As readers familiar with Veggie Tales might expect, there are elements of character-building and morality, Bible verses, and depictions of Christian life throughout this chapter book for elementary school children. Michael Gomez and his best friend, Justin, spend the summer with Michael’s archaeologist father at a dig on the shores of the Dead Sea, where Michael makes a “gross”—that is to say "cool”— discovery: two salt-withered, ancient squirrel bodies. The theme of the book—the commandment to honor thy father and mother—is illustrated by Michael’s disobedience to his father and his subsequent consequences and remorse. However, there is plenty of humor to tickle young readers, and the target audience will undoubtedly laugh out loud. Séguin-Magee’s many grayscale illustrations are appealingly cartoonish and funny. They depict presumably Latinx Dr. Gomez and Michael with brown skin, while Michael’s mother and Justin both present white. The book ends with a cliffhanger that will make readers happy sequel Boy Meets Squirrels publishes simultaneously.

Fans of such characters as Big Nate and Stink will likely enjoy the silly humor and adventures in this series opener, while many of their caregivers will appreciate the character-building lessons . (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3498-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Tyndale House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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SALAT IN SECRET

An empowering and important tale of bravery.

A Black Muslim boy must summon the courage to ask for a place at school to pray.

It’s Muhammad’s seventh birthday, and Daddy has a special gift for him: a prayer rug that’s royal blue with gold stitching and that smells of incense. Muhammad is now old enough to independently offer the five Muslim daily prayers, or salat. He packs the rug before school the next day and plans to find a private place for salat. But asking his teacher for help feels harder than anticipated—especially after seeing mean passersby jeer at his father, who prays in the open while working as an ice cream truck driver. To claim a space, Muhammad will need to be brave, just like his joyful, hardworking Daddy. Once again, Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar, 2018) has written a beautiful, positive, and welcome portrayal of Black Muslim families. Her melodic writing captures Muhammad’s feelings as he works to find his voice and advocate for his needs. Aly’s playful, energetic illustrations offer a nod to Islamic art traditions and work in tandem with the text to give readers a glimpse into Muhammad’s hopes, fears, and growth. An author’s note explains what salat is, the times and names of the prayers, how it is performed, and other relevant terms used within the text. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An empowering and important tale of bravery. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781984848093

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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BAXTER, THE PIG WHO WANTED TO BE KOSHER

The title says it all: When Baxter hears about Shabbat, when “the candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song,” from an old man at the bus stop, of course he wants to be part of it—but how? The young man he meets the next week tells him he can’t: “You’re not kosher!” In pursuit of kosher, Baxter eats kosher dills, pigs out on challah and teaches himself to moo. Finally a kindly rabbi leads him to the truth: “But,” she asks, “why would you want to get eaten?” She goes on, however, to explain that “[i]t is a mitzvah to welcome a stranger,” so Baxter gets to enjoy Shabbat after all. Goldin’s photo-collage illustrations present a suitably goofy-but-sincere cartoon pig dressed in a plaid button-down Oxford shirt and locate him in an urban neighborhood that features an imposing synagogue and a kosher deli. While Snyder's glossary glides a little irresponsibly over the precise meaning of "kosher," this will nevertheless find plenty of use in Jewish homes, particularly among families in which one parent is not Jewish. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58246-315-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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