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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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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