A heartwarming tale with an abundance of kindness, love, and tradition.

SOOSIE

THE HORSE THAT SAVED SHABBAT

Blessing the challah at the Friday night dinner signals the beginning of Shabbat.

In the early 20th century, the city of Jerusalem is still a small town. Bakery owners Esther and Ezra bake the challahs before dawn on Friday mornings to be ready by daylight for delivery to Jewish families. Jacob, their reliable delivery boy, loads the cart, hitches up their horse, clicks his tongue to her, and off they go. Jacob and Soosie make several stops along the road for people waiting to select their loaves and place payment in a little tin bank affixed to the side of the cart, exchanging greetings of “Shabbat Shalom” as they go. One memorable Friday, Jacob is very sick, but he and the bakers are confident that Soosie can do the job on her own. After all, she knows the routine very well. They put a note under the tin bank so their customers will understand the unusual change. It works perfectly, and the exhausted Soosie arrives home with a full bank and an empty stomach. She is given the trio’s gratitude, a meal, and a well-earned rest. Halberstadt’s cartoon illustrations are filled with energy and emotion, vividly depicting characters and important objects in bright colors, with some backgrounds in gray, and just enough detail to set the scene. Diverse townspeople are seen with many different skin tones and a wide variety of dress indicating the scattered places from which they migrated to Palestine/Israel. A detailed author’s note explains the tale’s origins, a bit of Jerusalem’s history, and the rituals of Shabbat.

A heartwarming tale with an abundance of kindness, love, and tradition. (Picture book. 4-11)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9988527-7-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Endless Mountains Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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