This is a great lesson plan, but it’s not a great book.
Lieberman makes the rube’s mistake of trying for rhyming verse, with unsuccessful results. Sometimes the language doesn’t even sound natural. Case in point: “Shabbos, Shabbos, I love you, / All week I wait for this— / We light the Shabbos candles, / And share a Shabbos kiss!” Without the rhymes, the book would be a useful introduction to the Jewish Sabbath. It teaches most of the relevant Hebrew words. The children in the story eat challah (translated in the glossary as “special Shabbos loaves”) and walk to shul (synagogue) with Abba (their father). Religious parents will be glad to have a simple teaching tool—even if the book sometimes feels more like a vocabulary test than a story. Unfortunately, whole pages of the book are painful to read. Even young children may find it odd when the Sabbath is described as a “kiss-the-Torah day.” Blame Dr. Seuss. So many people grew up reading his books that authors instinctively start writing in verse. Seuss would have found a clever rhyme for b’samim or Havdalah, but the language here just sounds stilted.
The words of the Sabbath are beautiful words, and they deserve a more beautiful story. Odds are, that story is in prose. (Picture book/religion. 2-5)