Even given the paucity of books on Sukkot, this is one to skip.

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THE VANISHING GOURDS

A SUKKOT MYSTERY

The Jewish fall harvest festival celebrated in a temporary hut known as a sukkah is the focus of this slight story about sharing.

Having carefully selected several gourds to hang from the sukkah roof as decorations, Sara and Avi are dismayed when the hard-shelled vegetables begin to fall, split open and are ravaged by the squirrels in their yard. Sara’s anger inspires a dream she has that night in which the offending squirrel emerges to apologize and promises to bring new gourds the following year. Once awake, Sara imagines squirrels shopping for gourds at the local market and acknowledges their hunger with a pile of nuts carefully placed on the sukkah table. As the holiday ends, Sara makes sure the squirrels are well-fed throughout the year. When Sukkot rolls around again, Sara begins to clean up the patch of grass for the sukkah and is surprised to find a number of gourds growing there, sprouted from the seeds left by the squirrels the previous year. This contrivance—gourd vines are hard to miss, and does this family never mow?—fatally weakens the conclusion, with its implicit lesson of sharing. A more creative and endearing version of this theme can be found in Jamie Korngold’s Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast (2011). Acrylic and graphite sketches in earthy tones add mild amusement to Sara’s infuriating dilemma, though they do nothing to mitigate the implausibility of Sara's discovery.

Even given the paucity of books on Sukkot, this is one to skip. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7503-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets.

GROVER AND BIG BIRD'S PASSOVER CELEBRATION

The well-known Sesame Street characters visit Israel and impart information about the Passover holiday and story while on their way to a seder at the home of friends Avigail and Brosh.

After a flat tire on the bus, Grover and Big Bird decide to walk, only to get lost. On the way, they help a boy catch his runaway dog, carry groceries for an elderly woman, and convince the grouchy Moishe Oofnik to finally give them a ride to the seder with the promise of eating bitter herbs. “My favorite! Hop in.”  Forced segues within this light-as-a-feather plot lead to snippets of information about the holiday and the celebratory dinner’s traditions, such as the Four Questions, the afikomen ritual and the theme of freedom. For example, worried about being late, Big Bird frets, “Yes, but now we’d really better hurry.” Grover replies, “Did you know…that the Jewish people were in a hurry when they followed Moses out of Egypt?” Familiar Muppet figures fill the commercial-looking illustrations. Bold primary colors depict Grover and Big Bird’s journey; thought-bubble sequences of the ancient Exodus are populated by bewildered-looking generic Muppet faces. Once the seder is complete, an enlightened Big Bird expresses his appreciation and wish to celebrate next year in Jerusalem.

Utterly artless but familiar; good for families whose children are nuts for Muppets. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8491-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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