Humorous stories for Jewish holidays lighten up the year

CHELM FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Chelm is a real town in Poland, but more importantly, it is a mythical place where some very silly things happen.

This collection includes stories about 10 Jewish festivals, including the weekly Shabbat. Some are adaptations of Jewish folktales, and some are original, but all highlight both the town’s citizenry and its elders, a small group of men even more foolish than the people they lead. The stories follow the Jewish year, starting with Rosh Hashanah. Some themes are quite recognizable. “It Will Get Better,” a story set on Lag Ba’Omer, is a variant of the popular “It Could Always Be Worse,” memorably adapted by Margot Zemach. In it, the holiday picnic, bonfire, and archery tournament are forced into a barn because of rain. The animals smell and eat all the food. The barn almost burns down, but the villagers have pulled some boards out of the roof to let the sun shine in on their picnic—but remember, it’s raining. The stories are short and accessible, and they will work well as read-alouds. Children can also enjoy the whole book at once, laughing to themselves about the names alone: There’s Fishel the Foolish and Uri the Unwise, among others. The book assumes an audience already familiar with Jewish customs and traditions—or one willing just to laugh without understanding everything—as there is no additional contextual material.

Humorous stories for Jewish holidays lighten up the year . (Short stories. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5461-0

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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