Beyond explaining the holiday’s significance, Leah’s story will serve to illustrate Judaism’s model of kehilla (community),...

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SKY-HIGH SUKKAH

Friends and neighbors help apartment dweller Leah figure out a way to build a communal sukkah for the autumn holiday.

Living in a city high-rise does not afford Leah and her white, Jewish family an opportunity to create their own family sukkah. There is no backyard, and no one is ever allowed up on the roof, so celebrating at someone else’s sukkah is the norm, much to Leah’s dismay. When her friend Ari, also white, wins the Hebrew school poster contest for his painting of a city skyscraper crowned with a fully decorated sukkah, the prize is a real sukkah kit. But how can Ari make use of it without help? Neighbors and friends join in, volunteering to store, carry, build, and decorate this special sukkah everyone will share on the roof of Ari’s apartment house. More than simply celebrating in her own sukkah, Leah comes to understand the value of participating as part of a community. Gouache paintings in the blues and grays of a realistic urban concrete landscape complete the subtly informative narrative, which culminates with a colorful sukkah decked out with fruits and vegetables gifted by the local greengrocer, a black gentile named Al.

Beyond explaining the holiday’s significance, Leah’s story will serve to illustrate Judaism’s model of kehilla (community), in which cooperative spirit brings people together. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68115-513-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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