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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With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents...

THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU

God’s address to the Hebrew exiles from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah is repurposed in this cheery picture book that emphasizes children’s future careers.

In this decontextualized interpretation of the well-known verse, God narrates the text in a first-person, chatty style (“Hey, YOU!”) that urges children to discover their particular purposes in life, specifically related to career choices (“what I CREATED YOU to do”). The story begins with a fantastical factory in the clouds, controlled by engineers, and the disembodied hand of God pointing at readers. A sort of assembly line with seated, staring children scrolls across the bottoms of the pages, with the boys and girls receiving their professional wardrobes from robotic arms. Above the conveyor belt, smiling children are shown in various jobs wearing relevant career attire, with careful inclusion of children of many ethnicities as well as girls in science, medical, and construction jobs. While the text states that children will “find that one thing / that you love the most,” its overall thrust when combined with the illustrations implies that God chooses a profession for each child at birth and that children should be working toward that profession from an early age. The concluding page urges children to stop reading the book and “go out and find my big plans for YOU.” Readers with unemployed parents or parents toiling in miserable, unhappy jobs will be forgiven for wondering just where in God’s plan their families fit.

With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents and personalities. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-72410-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A fun story to share at Hanukkah—especially with the oil in the pan hot and ready for those yummy, crispy, fried holiday...

WAY TOO MANY LATKES

A HANUKKAH IN CHELM

Oy! Only in Chelm could there be such a problem—and such a solution.

Chelm, that beloved but very foolish village of old-time Eastern European Jewry, has a problem as the first day of Hanukkah approaches. Faigel makes the best latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil). But what is the recipe? She cannot remember. Her husband has the answer—or, rather, he knows whom to consult for the answer: the rabbi, who is the wisest man in the entire town. How many potatoes? All of them, says the rabbi. How many eggs? All of them, says the rabbi. How many onions? All of them, says the rabbi. How many mouths to eat all those mounds of deliciousness? All the villagers, says the rabbi. Glaser’s riff on a holiday tradition is told with lots of dialogue and the necessary understatement so important to Chelm tales. Zolotic’s flat, digitally composed illustrations, based on his background in animation, portray expressively bewildered and hungry white Chelmites with googly eyes and ultimately happy faces.

A fun story to share at Hanukkah—especially with the oil in the pan hot and ready for those yummy, crispy, fried holiday treats. (note on Chelm stories) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2092-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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