Uri Shulevitz’s Caldecott-winning The Treasure presents a more winning take on the original theme, but Christian educators...



A canny merchant outwits a would-be thief trying to steal his jewels, then with help from the Bible gives him a greater treasure.

First issued by a small publisher in 1999 with illustrations by Lad Odell, the story pairs wealthy Raj, on an annual journey to visit his family, and a light-fingered fruit seller, Mohan, who is bent on stealing his precious cargo. Though Mohan searches Raj’s bags every night along the way, he finds nothing—because, as Raj at last reveals, he had been wise to Mohan’s scheme all along and hid his jewels under Mohan’s own pillow. “When we have our eyes on other people’s treasure, we cannot see how close we are to the greatest treasure there is.” Taking out a New Testament, Raj then explains that giving his life to Jesus will make him God’s child, and the repentant thief returns to his own loving family, resolved to look to God for his future needs. Fournier’s carefully detailed depictions of generic Indian street scenes and benign-looking figures in traditional dress give the explicitly Christian message, which Zacharias has tacked on to what he claims is an old parable, an unlikely but not impossible setting.

Uri Shulevitz’s Caldecott-winning The Treasure presents a more winning take on the original theme, but Christian educators may find a use for this repurposed version. (no source note) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-71636-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot.


Jewish summer camp adventures get a little too goofy.

Budding director Noah is certain he’s on his way to film camp—after all, he’s been nagging his parents about it nonstop. But instead, he and his sister are shipped off to Camp Challah, where the socially awkward tween is not confident about making friends. Just before going away, Pops, Noah’s grandfather, tells him he needs Noah’s help saving the world. But the alter kocker is known for his bombastic pronouncements, so not even Noah takes him seriously until a carrier pigeon arrives with a note from Pops. Whatever anyone else expects—or doesn’t expect—of Noah, his real plan is to do what Pops says. Somehow he ends up making friends who go along for the ride, nonsensical and unclear though it is. The first half of the book takes a more realistic tone, with typical camp activities, and it’s not until halfway through that Pops reappears in the flesh to take Noah along. Not only is the pacing off, but it’s odd when the antagonist threatening the world turns out to be an asteroid—not what readers might expect from a grandfather who regularly claims to have been a secret agent during World War II. A supporting character described as part Navajo makes wartime Code Talkers less the undersung heroes they are and more another goofball plot addition.

Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot. (Mystery/adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6036-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.


The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage.


Thirteen-year-old Elan learns about his dual Jewish and Pueblo Indian heritage on a trip from San Francisco to New Mexico where he will read from the Torah and participate in a traditional Pueblo ceremony of becoming a man.

In 1898, Elan feels fortunate and special to have a Jewish father and a mother of Pueblo descent. While his family reviews the story of their mixed backgrounds, similarities between the two cultures become apparent. The transition from childhood to adult is respectfully addressed through Elan’s two coming-of-age ceremonies, witnessed by both families. For his bar mitzvah Torah reading, Elan proudly accepts a special tallit woven by his mother with symbols of the Star of David, the Ten Commandments, a stalk of corn and an oak tree. His parents remind Elan that he is the son of two proud nations, as his name means “oak tree” in Hebrew and “friendly” in the language of his mother’s people, the Acoma Pueblo. With his father, cousin Manolo and the other men of the community, Elan is welcomed into the Acoma tribe with rituals in the kiva (appropriately not depicted). Gouache scenes in soft, earthy tones gently depict the journey.

Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage. (historical note, glossary) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9051-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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