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

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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The simple Talmudic lesson has resonance for our contemporary world.

A RAINY DAY STORY

A conundrum is introduced through a parable from the Talmud about a rabbi who questions God on the world’s need for rain balanced against man’s comfort.

Rabbi Hanina is enjoying himself on a walk when a thunderstorm begins and renders him “soaked to the bone!” Drenched and upset, he asks God, “Master of the Universe! The whole world is happy, and Hanina is suffering?” The rain suddenly stops, and the rabbi continues home, changes into dry clothes, and prepares a soup. He’s finally comfortable, but he does not eat when he looks outside to notice that all’s not well. “The ground was parched, the trees were thirsty, the river was dry, and the frogs were staring at the sky longingly.” Once again he questions God: “Master of the Universe! The whole world is suffering, and Hanina is happy?” The thunder and lightning resume along with the downpour while the satisfied rabbi stays comfortably warm inside enjoying both the soup and the sweet-smelling spring rain. Soft, lovely illustrations depict a gray-bearded, pale-skinned sage and his simple abode set in a Middle Eastern garden. The subtle significance of the rabbi’s questions and his ultimate revelation may well encourage discussion—even, perhaps, about our current climate change concerns. The text of the original story from the Babylonian Talmud is printed in both Hebrew and English in the backmatter. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.3% of actual size.)

The simple Talmudic lesson has resonance for our contemporary world. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6038-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Humorous stories for Jewish holidays lighten up the year

CHELM FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Chelm is a real town in Poland, but more importantly, it is a mythical place where some very silly things happen.

This collection includes stories about 10 Jewish festivals, including the weekly Shabbat. Some are adaptations of Jewish folktales, and some are original, but all highlight both the town’s citizenry and its elders, a small group of men even more foolish than the people they lead. The stories follow the Jewish year, starting with Rosh Hashanah. Some themes are quite recognizable. “It Will Get Better,” a story set on Lag Ba’Omer, is a variant of the popular “It Could Always Be Worse,” memorably adapted by Margot Zemach. In it, the holiday picnic, bonfire, and archery tournament are forced into a barn because of rain. The animals smell and eat all the food. The barn almost burns down, but the villagers have pulled some boards out of the roof to let the sun shine in on their picnic—but remember, it’s raining. The stories are short and accessible, and they will work well as read-alouds. Children can also enjoy the whole book at once, laughing to themselves about the names alone: There’s Fishel the Foolish and Uri the Unwise, among others. The book assumes an audience already familiar with Jewish customs and traditions—or one willing just to laugh without understanding everything—as there is no additional contextual material.

Humorous stories for Jewish holidays lighten up the year . (Short stories. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5461-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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