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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Although a little too wordy for younger listeners, this is one of the more attractive books on Islam’s origins.

THE SPIDER AND THE DOVES

THE STORY OF THE HIJRA

The lowly spider is a strong hero in this traditional story about Muhammad.

During the Prophet's flight from Makkah (Mecca) to Madinah (Medina) on the journey called the Hijra (Hejira), he stopped in a cave with his follower, Abu Bakr, to escape his pursuers. As the story goes, birds (usually pigeons, but here called doves) nested outside the cave, and a spider wove a web to fool the tracker sent by Makkah’s leaders. The animals instinctively thought that their presence would cause the tracker to think that Muhammad couldn’t be inside. (In similar stories, spiders also save King David and the baby Jesus with their webs. The image of a tiny creature standing up against stronger forces unites disparate faiths.) An unobtrusive asterisk and plus sign are used when Muhammad and Abu Bakr’s names are mentioned to indicate that Muslims should say a blessing after the Prophet’s name and the name of his companion. This is explained on the inside cover, but the blessings are omitted. Black silhouettes are cleverly juxtaposed against intensely colored watercolors, working within the Muslim injunction against showing human images. A source note would have been helpful, placing the story within the context of Muhammad’s life.

Although a little too wordy for younger listeners, this is one of the more attractive books on Islam’s origins. (Picture book/religion. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-86037-449-7

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Kube Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A timely theme to emphasize America’s promise for each generation of newcomers.

PAVEL AND THE TREE ARMY

In Depression-era America, Pavel, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, joins the Civilian Conservation Corps and learns to blend his new American identity with his Jewish one.

On the advice of his rabbi, Pavel decides to take a job planting trees all over the country as part of the new program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Arriving in Idaho, Pavel’s first impression is that this empty landscape seems quite foreign compared to a bustling, busy New York City, but Pavel is encouraged by the prospect of three meals a day and hard-earned money to help support his family. However, some of the men he meets on his team scrutinize Pavel’s accent and claim he cannot be a real American. Pavel wonders how he can prove that he is just as American as his co-workers. As the Fourth of July approaches, Pavel and his fellow immigrant workers learn the words to the newly declared national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and sing it at the fireworks display, proudly declaring their new American status. Demonstrative, stylized paintings feature an assortment of sturdy, earnest young men (all pale-skinned) dressed in blue/green uniforms planting a plethora of tree saplings. The author’s not-so-subtle metaphor illustrates how Pavel’s work allows him to feel rooted in his new country just as his plantings grow and thrive in today’s national parks and forests.

A timely theme to emphasize America’s promise for each generation of newcomers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4446-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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