Good supplementary material to increase the holiday’s meaning and currency for older children.

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PASSOVER

FESTIVAL OF FREEDOM

From the Orca Origins series

An overview of the holiday of Passover is elaborated with personal narratives, the story’s connection to the Holocaust, and various Seder customs practiced in several countries around the world.

A Canadian author and child of Holocaust survivors, Polak introduces the topic through her own personal account of a secular Jewish upbringing in Montreal. She focuses on how her research on and interest in the Holocaust brought her full circle to hosting her first Seder. The first chapter is devoted to the traditional Haggada, the book used to recount the ancient story, which includes the various rituals performed at the ceremonial meal. She introduces Ben, a Lithuanian survivor, and his version of his family’s Passover observance before World War II. From here Polak clearly connects the biblical story of oppression, escape, and freedom to the Holocaust while segueing into modern-day observance and traditions. Two concluding chapters outline the Jewish community’s charitable commitment to providing food baskets and support for the needy as well as the diversity of multicultural traditions for the holiday as celebrated in not only Israel, but in some Asian, European, and African countries. A plethora of photographs, informational sidebars, drawings, and recipes break up the substantial yet enlightening text.

Good supplementary material to increase the holiday’s meaning and currency for older children. (glossary, index, references) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0990-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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A useful if occasionally preachy introduction, this book would benefit from the inclusion of more specific details,...

FAITH

FIVE RELIGIONS AND WHAT THEY SHARE

To encourage tolerance, the photographer/authors want to help children understand similarities among Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

The authors assume readers will be people of faith, not atheists or agnostics. After short descriptions of each religion, common themes, such as the Golden Rule, spiritual leaders, sacred texts, clothing, symbols, places of worship, worship acts (use of incense, candles, water, and prayer), charity and cherishing children are explored. The text can be very specific, mentioning branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) without explaining the differences. (Sunni and Shiite Muslims are not delineated.) Activities will help children, teachers and parents think about religion in a comparative manner, although no sources or further reading are provided, which is a glaring omission. The attractive photos are often cropped into circular or curvilinear shapes and presented on brightly colored pages, giving the book the look of a magazine. Identified by religion but not by country, the photos were taken in the United States and eight other nations, including Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam. Interestingly, Israel and India, seemingly obvious choices, are not included. Captions would have been helpful for some photos such as a picture of a Muslim boy in a distinctive white cape and jeweled hat, which remains unexplained in the text.

A useful if occasionally preachy introduction, this book would benefit from the inclusion of more specific details, including holidays and eating customs. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-750-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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An exciting and thought-provoking evocation of a strong, brave young woman.

A FEARLESS LEADER

A BIBLE STORY ABOUT DEBORAH

From the Called and Courageous Girls series

In a retelling of the story of Deborah taken from the Hebrew Bible, she emerges as thoughtful and trustworthy, with God’s words to guide her.

While on a hill overlooking her village, Deborah spots an army of chariots. She and her friends bravely rush to warn the villagers in time to escape. King Jabin, his general, Sisera, and his men destroy the village, but the people, including Deborah’s family, escape. The army continues to attack villages throughout the land, maintaining a reign of terror. Deborah definitely has God on her side, as he speaks directly to her, telling her that she has been chosen to lead her people to freedom. On God’s instructions the battle is joined with Deborah and the soldier Barak in the lead and with God’s intervention in the form of lightning, pouring rain, and floods. With their bravery and that of the Israelites, freedom is achieved. The authors employ accessible and poetic language to tell the tale, with careful attention to the characters and details as they appear in the Bible and with particular emphasis on Deborah’s faith in God. Elwell’s strongly hued illustrations capture the texture, light, action, and power of the tale. Deborah and the Israelites are depicted with dark hair and eyes and deep-toned swarthy skin color.

An exciting and thought-provoking evocation of a strong, brave young woman. (questions, author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7369-7371-7

Page Count: 49

Publisher: Harvest House

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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