Mitzvahs galore for Muppet lovers.

IT'S A MITZVAH, GROVER!

Can a book do its job too well?

The story is basic enough: Grover and his Israeli friends want to clean up a playground. Moishe Oofnik refuses to help them, because he’s a grouch. (He lives in a trash can like Oscar, his American cousin on Sesame Street.) But Moishe is more than willing to accept the discarded trash from the play area. He even weeds out the items that aren’t garbage. “Recycling is a mitzvah!” Grover says, to Moishe’s chagrin. “Moishe, you are doing a mitzvah.” Oddly, though, the simple plot is interrupted, halfway through the book, for a lesson in color theory. As the Muppets paint the swing and slide, they talk about the colors they’ve chosen. Mahboub has picked yellow, “like sunflowers, loquats, lemons, and grapefruit.” Mahboub goes on to explain that yellow and blue make green. The characters even teach some Hebrew words. Doing a mitzvah is helpfully—if not quite correctly—translated as doing “something nice for others.” It’s hard to fault a book for teaching too many valuable lessons. But after four straight pages, the lecture on colors turns into a distraction. Still, talking about colors is perfectly in character for Muppets. (Grover’s friends come from Shalom Sesame, set in Israel.) And when readers take a look at the seesaw, painted in rainbow colors, they may forgive everything.

Mitzvahs galore for Muppet lovers. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7562-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Animated and educational.

I'M A HARE, SO THERE!

A hare and a ground squirrel banter about the differences between related animals that are often confused for one another.

Jack is “no Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail,” but a “H-A-R-E, hare!” Like sheep and goats, or turtles and tortoises, rabbits and hares may look similar, but hares are bigger, their fur changes color in the winter, and they are born with their eyes wide open. As the ground squirrel (not to be mistaken for a chipmunk (even though Jack cheekily calls it “Chippie”) and Jack engage in playful discussion about animals, a sneaky coyote prowls after them through the Sonoran Desert. This picture book conveys the full narrative in spirited, speech-bubbled dialogue set on expressive illustrations of talking animals. Dark outlines around the characters make their shapes pop against the softly blended colors of the desert backgrounds. Snappy back-and-forth paired with repetition and occasional rhyme enhances the story’s appeal as a read-aloud. As the story progresses, the colors of the sky shift from dawn to dusk, providing subtle, visual bookends for the narrative. One page of backmatter offers a quick guide to eight easily confused pairs, and a second turns a subsequent exploration of the book into a seek-and-find of 15 creatures (and one dessert) hidden in the desert. Unfortunately, while most of the creatures from the seek-and-find appear in poses that match the illustrations in the challenge, not all of them are consistently represented. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 53.3% of actual size.)

Animated and educational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12506-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A sweet, colorful start for a Christian spiritual journey.

BECAUSE GOD LOVES ME

A cheery child gives thanks to God.

“When I see a rainbow / High up in the sky / I say a little prayer of thanks, / And here’s the reason why: // Because God loves me!” This board book’s focus is the comforting notion that God loves all his children, and no matter what, he will always look out for them. The text follows an ABCB rhyme scheme, breaking after every stanza to repeat the phrase “Because God loves me!” The small, light-skinned child has spiky brown hair and wears a dress; both the child and a chubby accompanying dog are appealingly illustrated with a bright, simple color palette and scratchy lines that appear to have been made with colored pencil. God is the only name given for the deity, implying a primarily Christian audience. The book’s message is clear, and its construction is sturdy, suiting this well to parents who are beginning to have conversations with their little readers regarding their beliefs.

A sweet, colorful start for a Christian spiritual journey. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58925-237-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

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