The punch line is still funny. Anna manages to keep her sneeze hidden from the wedding guests. But readers may feel they’ve...

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DON'T SNEEZE AT THE WEDDING

This is two books in one, but it’s not as much of a bargain as it sounds like.

Children may feel as though they’re reading two stories at once. The first is a step-by-step guide to a Jewish wedding: Sign the ketubah, exchange rings, listen to the Seven Blessings. That book is practical, although it may seem a little dull to children who aren’t obsessed with brides or pink shoes or flower girls’ dresses. The second book is a story about Anna, a flower girl who’s dressed in pink from head to toe, including a pink wreath of flowers on her head. She’s afraid that she won’t be able to complete her wedding duties because she can’t keep from sneezing. Everyone from her parents to the florist has advice to give. They tell her to wiggle her earlobe or whisper the word “pineapple.” The second book is much more amusing than the first. “Pineapple” is always funny. The problem is that the educational book and the humor book never quite mesh. A joke doesn’t work very well when it’s got a discussion of marriage documents in the middle.

The punch line is still funny. Anna manages to keep her sneeze hidden from the wedding guests. But readers may feel they’ve had twice as much story as they really needed. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0428-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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A sweet Pesach indeed.

A PLACE FOR ELIJAH

Everyone is welcome at the Seder table, but will there be a seat for the Prophet Elijah?

Sarah and her family joyously prepare for Passover's first Seder. They set the table with an extra place and seat for Elijah, and the door is left open so he can come in. They begin the Seder with a special prayer for their neighbors across the street, whose shops and apartments are without power on this unseasonably cold and rainy night. Music Man Miguel, Doughnut Dan, Bagel Ben, Mrs. Faaiz the florist, and the young boy who sells magazines are all in the dark. One by one these neighbors are drawn to the light and warmth of Sarah’s home. As each one is welcomed and provided with a seat at the table and with wonderful, savory food, Sarah sets another place for Elijah. The final visitor is the young boy who is given the only remaining chair. Sarah is really worried until she asks the boy his name. “You never know how Elijah comes, only that he does.” Ruben seamlessly weaves information about Passover and its traditions into a tale of a loving family with open hearts that fully embrace the spirit of this ancient holiday. Though a bit stiff, Friar’s carefully detailed illustrations, set in blues and yellows, beautifully complement the events.

A sweet Pesach indeed. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7841-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday.

ABC PASSOVER HUNT

An alphabet book employs a series of riddles and puzzles to engage children in the recognition of the various aspects of the Passover holiday.

An initial search to find all the letters in a double-page illustration features a typical table set for the Seder meal. This is followed by 24 rhymed questions posed in alphabetical order that present a variety of customs, symbols, characters, and concepts of the holiday. For example, the letter B is represented by “Baby Moses,” and readers are asked to choose the correct boat used to float the baby on the Nile. Children are offered a multiple-choice assortment of picture clues that are drawn in a clear, simple cartoon style. In the case of Moses, the vessels include a leaf, a cardboard box, a woven basket, an inner tube, a rowboat, and a rubber ducky. Some of the inquiries are straightforward or obvious for the holiday, while others, such as the page that addresses slavery, require some thinking and possible discussion. A variety of methods are also used to achieve the answers, such as solving a maze and reading a map. Others may require actual knowledge of the subject posed, such as the one on the 15th of Nisan, the Hebrew day and month that Passover begins. Together these short games can be used as an impetus to discuss the holiday's story and significance or to retell its various aspects.

A mildly stimulating and challenging exploration of the holiday. (author’s note, answer key) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7843-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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