Kindness is rewarded and a holiday is celebrated in this endearing, satisfying story.

THE PASSOVER GUEST

Miracles occur on Passover, both in the Haggadah and in a poor, Depression-era Jewish American neighborhood.

For Muriel, a young girl living in 1933 Washington, D.C., there can be no Passover seder. Her family is too poor. Stopping at the Lincoln Memorial, she watches a juggler whose shabby appearance suddenly seems to burst into color. She gives him all she has—one penny—and he tells her to hurry home to a seder. She rushes home only to find her parents standing in front of an empty table. But the stranger is now at the door, and he magically transforms that bare table to one overflowing with holiday foods and ceremonial plates and cups. The rabbi is summoned and declares it a “true miracle” to be enjoyed by the whole neighborhood. At the conclusion of the festive meal, the cup left for the Prophet Elijah is empty. In her afterword, the author writes that a favorite childhood story was Uri Shulevitz’s The Magician (1973), which set a Yiddish tale by Isaac Loeb Peretz in a shtetl. This reimagined American setting during the Great Depression and its message of community and faith will resonate with readers. Rubin’s line-and-color art beautifully conveys a Washington, D.C., spring with cherry blossoms blooming, crowded streets that also evoke a long-ago, slightly off-kilter European town, and a gloriously bright holiday evening. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 34.8% of actual size.)

Kindness is rewarded and a holiday is celebrated in this endearing, satisfying story. (illustrator's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4562-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more