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

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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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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The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement.

HANUKKAH BEAR

A well-used trope of misidentification allows a village elder to innocently open her home to a possible predator with humorous, even endearing results.

Despite her advanced age of 97 and her poor eyesight and hearing, Bubba Brayna “still [makes] the best potato latkes in the village.” When Old Bear is awakened from his winter sleep by the savory aroma of frying latkes and comes to her door, Bubba Brayna invites him in for a fresh batch, mistaking the bear’s rotund girth and bushy face for the heavy-set bearded rabbi’s. Heading straight for the kitchen, the growling bear is encouraged to play dreidel with nuts he chooses to eat, then devours all the latkes with jam like any hungry bear would. Sleepy and satisfied, he leaves with a gift of a red woolen scarf around his neck. After some investigating by the crowd that has gathered at Bubba Brayna’s door, which includes the actual rabbi, a new batch of potatoes are brought from the cellar, and with everyone’s help, Bubba Brayna hosts a happy Hanukkah. This newly illustrated version of The Chanukkah Guest, illustrated by Giora Carmi (1990), is a softer rendition, with acrylic paints and curved lines in tints of yellow, brown and green for warm, earthy atmosphere.

The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2855-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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