Some children will demand a more traditional ending, but readers with a contemplative nature—or at least a sense of...

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THE GOLDEN BELL

This Israeli import may set a new record for delayed gratification.

For a little while, the book feels like a story with no ending: In ancient Jerusalem, a tailor is mending a robe for the High Priest. His son, Itamar, notices that the robe is missing a bell on its hem and searches for it all over the city, but he never finds it. That seems like the place where the story has to end. A bell from Biblical times can never be replaced. But the final page of the book introduces a young archaeologist who, in 2011, spots something “gleaming in the dirt in an ancient drainage ditch.” Some readers will be frustrated by the delayed ending. It takes the resolution completely out of Itamar’s hands. But Itamar seems more bemused than distraught. The closing pages of the story show him as a gray-haired man, telling his children about the bell that was “lost and never found.” Philosophical readers may take this as an important lesson: Don’t hold on too tightly to the things you’ve lost. And the illustrations are extraordinary. Abolafia has simplified the characters’ anatomy to a few basic, lovely strokes of the pen, and he’s chosen a remarkable variety of browns to represent the range of people in the Middle East.

Some children will demand a more traditional ending, but readers with a contemplative nature—or at least a sense of humor—will be more than satisfied. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2612-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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The lofty symbolism of this allegorical tale may be above the comprehension level of literal-minded children.

GOOD GOOD FATHER

This Christian allegory presents a little bear who asks an all-powerful lion king for his help in solving the problems of other bear cubs.

Tucker is a cub who likes to help others, but his young friends have all sorts of deep-seated troubles, ranging from illness to hunger to aggression. So Tucker sets off on a journey to see the king, who lives in a hilltop castle “where the door was always open.” The bear cub wants to take along a “perfect gift” for the king to elicit his help, and in familiar fashion, he meets animals along the way who give him additional information about the king and items to take along as presents. Tucker takes all these items to the lion, who explains that as king he can fulfill these roles because he is a good father. The king returns to the town with Tucker, magically solving everyone’s problems with unexplained help and lots of love. Tucker concludes that the king is a “Good Good Father,” and Tucker’s seeking his help was the perfect gift. God is not mentioned in the text, and younger children will need an adult’s assistance in understanding the symbolic meaning of the lion and his multifaceted powers. Pleasant though unnuanced watercolor-and-pencil illustrations of appealing animal characters add some spunk to the story.

The lofty symbolism of this allegorical tale may be above the comprehension level of literal-minded children. (authors’ note) (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7180-8695-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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