I AM THE TREE OF LIFE

MY JEWISH YOGA BOOK

This guide works better as a bestiary than as a picture book.

This Jewish yoga guide is filled with animals.

If children had to list their favorite Biblical characters, they might not mention “the snake that slithered in front of Pharaoh” or “the giant fish that swallowed Jonah” or “a thirsty camel that drank from Rebekah’s water pitcher,” but all of those animals are featured in this picture book—possibly because they match up perfectly with yoga positions. Children may find the snake appealing, because it ate up all the other snakes in the palace, but many would rather be Rebekah—who offered water to needy travelers—than the camel she fed. Each page of the book showcases a character or object from the Bible—like Noah’s Ark or David fighting Goliath—along with an illustrated lesson in yoga. The poses are acted out in the pictures by two vacant-eyed children—a black boy and a white girl—with small, blank smiles on their faces. (The skin tones of the Biblical figures range from pale khaki to pale amber.) If the choice of subjects is slightly haphazard, some of the figures are genuinely inspiring, like Sarah and Abraham, whose tent (downward dog) sheltered wanderers in the barren desert. A book that combines yoga instruction with the Bible is probably aimed at a niche audience, but even that audience may feel a little befuddled.

This guide works better as a bestiary than as a picture book. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-552-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

SEDER IN THE DESERT

Lovely, different and yet familiar.

Expressive, beautiful color photography forms the visual storytelling accompaniment to this modern-day communal Seder in the desert in Moav, Utah.

“Why is this seder different from all others?” Beginning with a slightly altered question from the traditional “Why is this night different…,” readers are taken through a re-enactment of the Israelites’ desert journey as participants in the Adventure Rabbi Program celebrate Passover. The program seeks to “[combine] the ancient traditions of the Jewish Seder with the inspiration of the Red Rock Desert.” Author and rabbi Korngold, spiritual leader of the program, simply and effectively demonstrates how the traditional concepts of the holiday are maintained through this unusual event, which emphasizes experiential learning. With stunning natural scenery as a backdrop, families hike, carry Seder necessities including a torah and Haggadot for children, and set a table on the sandy ground complete with the special ceremonial foods. There, they read, learn and debate the story of the Exodus, eat together, sing and dance. Before nightfall, they reverse their trip, closing with a campfire gathering. The focus of this distinctive approach is on examining how and why the Seder is celebrated rather than on retelling the familiar story.

Lovely, different and yet familiar. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

CELEBRATING HARVEST

This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support.

The annual harvest from farm to table is explored with a religious perspective, focusing on Christian harvest traditions and the Jewish celebration of Sukkot.

Crisp color photography highlights children in scenes of farming and the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. The book features several instructive points about the variety of produce available, the harvest concept and sharing. Finally, it covers two different yet corresponding religious ways to observe the harvest and thank God. Church-based harvest festivals are illustrated by the decorating of a church with various breads, wheat stalks and baskets of food. Sukkot is shown with the building and decorating of a Sukkah and how this symbol of a shelter or hut relates to the ancient Jewish celebration. An informative and eye-catching design on glossy paper offers a large, multicolored print, the majority of text blocks in black against soft pale backgrounds, with key words in bold blue; these are repeated in a vocabulary border at the bottom of each page. The text is largely framed in questions, encouraging personal response and discussion. The simplicity and functionality of the book’s premise is enhanced with an addendum of teaching suggestions for specific pages and more detailed background information about the concepts presented.

This will serve well in both religious and nonreligious settings for fall curriculum support. (websites, index) (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-237-54373-0

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Evans/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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