A fun, action-packed romp with a lesson about living out God’s messages folded in.

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TREE-MENDOUS TROUBLE

From the Dead Sea Squirrels series , Vol. 5

An early chapter book full of humor and adventures centered on Christian life.

In this fifth entry in the Dead Sea Squirrels series, ancient talking squirrels Merle and Pearl, who were salted and preserved in a cave for centuries, have now found a home with 10-year-old Michael Gomez and his family. After establishing a life in the 21st century, Merle and Pearl come to realize they can get into as many adventures and difficult situations now as they did in the past. This book features run-ins with other local squirrels and Michael’s family cat as well as trouble at Michael’s school when Merle squirms his way out of Michael’s backpack. Whenever Merle and Pearl find themselves in a pickle, Pearl refers to God’s blessings and reminds Merle of God’s teachings. Even as they laugh at the squirrels’ shenanigans, readers will absorb the lessons to be kind and forgiving to family, friends, and even enemies, following God’s will. The illustrations are appropriately humorous (one of Pearl in a bathrobe and bunny slippers, holding a cup of tea, is particularly funny), and they depict an interracial Gomez family; Michael, his dad, and his sister have somewhat darker skin than does Michael’s mother. A cliffhanger whets readers’ appetites for the next book, Whirly Squirrelies, which publishes simultaneously.

A fun, action-packed romp with a lesson about living out God’s messages folded in. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3514-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Tyndale Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare.

SAM AND CHARLIE (AND SAM TOO!)

Not even the worthy subject matter can overcome the herky-jerky writing in this rare glimpse into everyday Jewish life.

Over four short chapters, a boy and a girl become good friends in spite of misunderstandings. When Sam overhears that the new kid next door is named Charlie, he’s initially thrilled to find a playmate. To his surprise, he discovers that both Charlie and her little sister Sam (or “Sam Too”) are girls. That makes little difference, though, since Charlie’s a stellar buddy. The chapter on “Sharing” tests that new friendship when both Sam and Charlie crave the last prune hamentaschen. They’re closer after Sam aims to cheer up Charlie on “Sick Day,” but “The Bad Haircut” undoes that good with a callous comment. Finally on “I’m Sorry Day,” aka Yom Kippur, the two apologize, and hilarity ensues. The text’s level of difficulty is ideal for the emerging reader taking baby steps into chapter books, but even the great subject matter (the everyday lives of Jewish kids) can’t make up for abrupt transitions between those chapters, lines like “Friendship is the best medicine,” and odd lessons on losing on purpose to keep a friendship going. Tambellini’s illustrations complement the action beautifully but cannot save the weak writing.

Nevertheless, it fills a gap in the marketplace, hopefully paving the way for stronger fare. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7213-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A simplified—if not simplistic—conversation starter.

SNOW FOR EVERYONE!

Three children argue about where the snow comes from and who it belongs to, learning that they can share and enjoy together.

One rare snowy day in Jerusalem, Samir, Mira, and Rafi are playing but fall to arguing over how to “divide up the precious snow.” They each decide to find out where it comes from and who owns it. Samir runs to the mosque to ask the imam; Mira goes to the church looking for the priest; and Rafi, to the synagogue to query the rabbi. Each child takes some snow with them only to discover when they reach their chosen authority that it has melted. The children’s squabble is clearly a metaphor for the conflicts that arise among the region’s different ethnic groups; Mira even draws a border. Schneider’s text mentions soldiers, traders, worshippers, pilgrims, and tourists but doesn’t delve into the region’s complexities. Using gold and blue tones, Chang portrays the many different people moving through the city and the clothes and carpets displayed in the market. An unattended, fedora-clad camel strikes an odd note. Controversially, the people appear to live in peaceful coexistence, but this is not an everyday reality in divided Jerusalem. The book does not supply context necessary for readers unfamiliar with the conflict to understand such details as Mira’s border or that a war over the territories has gone on for years.

A simplified—if not simplistic—conversation starter. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4320-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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