A Jewish audience will appreciate the overall significance of the concept and context; Gentiles will get a kick out of the...

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MATZO FROGS

Amphibian neighbors come to Minnie’s rescue when she accidentally spills all the matzo-ball soup she has prepared for Shabbat dinner and doesn’t have time to prepare more before sundown.

Sol Frog, Mel Frog, Gilda Frog, Golda Frog, Dinah Frog and Barney Frog reside in a pond by Minnie’s house, and like the elves in the classic Grimms’ fairy tale “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” they decide to help the kindhearted woman while she is out helping a bedridden friend. With much fervor, jumping around and catapulting of ingredients into the soup pot, a fresh and tasty soup is prepared and ready when Minnie returns—a welcome surprise for her and her Shabbat guests. The lush greens of the anthropomorphic, bulging-eyed cartoon-style frogs dominate the palette and create a rollicking atmosphere for this celebration of the performance of mitzvoth. Kindness begets kindness, and “one mitzvah leads to another” as Jewish neighbors help one another in various ways. The story’s amusing arc with its altruistic message culminates with a sculpted matzo-ball frog left as a floating clue in the soup, prompting one more mitzvah in grateful acknowledgment.

A Jewish audience will appreciate the overall significance of the concept and context; Gentiles will get a kick out of the kind frogs. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58838-302-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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For people familiar with Jerusalem the images are recognizable. For a clear, complete, nuanced introduction, look elsewhere.

JOURNEY THROUGH JERUSALEM

This brief picture-book tour of Jerusalem has a clear Jewish and Christian viewpoint.

Three kittens and their mama are the tour guides. They provide diversion as they guide readers past iconic sites—beginning with a lesser-known windmill near Hezekiah’s Tunnel, through the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, past the Cardo columns built by the Romans, to the Western Wall outside the Dome of the Rock, and down Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They then take a light-rail train outside the Old City to the Mahane Yehuda Market, the Knesset building, and the Shrine of the Book. Mama cat provides commentary, explaining, for example, that the Knesset is “where all the important laws are made” and that the Shrine of the Book is the “special home of the oldest Hebrew Bible ever found.” In contrast, the Dome of the Rock is described as “built on a very sacred spot,” with no mention that it is a holy place for Muslims as well as for Jews. Stock photos with images of the cats superimposed are busy and often unclear. Explanations are incomplete, and the geopolitical, architectural, and religious complexity of Jerusalem is thereby given short shrift.

For people familiar with Jerusalem the images are recognizable. For a clear, complete, nuanced introduction, look elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68115-531-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A mediocre, bland offering for the holiday shelf.

A WATERMELON IN THE SUKKAH

A child’s favorite fruit creates a challenge for his class when it comes time for the annual ritual of decorating the classroom’s Sukkah, the traditional outdoor hut for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Michael arrives at school with a choice fruit, following his teacher’s request to bring in a favorite one. As the children prepare to hang their bananas, pears, grapes and oranges, Michael realizes that his large, round, heavy watermelon will be difficult to suspend, as is the custom, from the open-air latticed roof of the Sukkah. Ideas abound: a basket of sorts could be made from lots of string, or rubber bands, or tape….Disappointed but not discouraged, Michael tries a hammock-style approach made from a large piece of fabric and four hooks, and to everyone’s surprise, it works. Perhaps a pumpkin will be next? Stock cartoon faces dominate the colorful gouache paintings of a Judaic school. The story, too, feels dutiful rather than inspired, an off-the-shelf plot to fill a niche rather than a meaningful celebration of this joyous holiday.

A mediocre, bland offering for the holiday shelf. (note) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8118-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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