An appealing and effective age-appropriate introduction to some of Hillel’s teachings.

READ REVIEW

HILLEL TAKES A BATH

A Jewish sage confounds his students with his surprising teaching methods in this story based on a midrash.

Brandishing a “large linen cloth,” Hillel announces he will show how “to do a mitzvah.” His students know some of the 613 mitzvot, Torah commandments that teach people how to act. They remember how Hillel ingeniously taught the Torah to a man who wanted to learn the whole thing while standing on one foot: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.…That is the whole Torah. Now go and study.” Guessing at the rabbi’s intentions, the students suggest possible mitzvot: giving the cloth as tzedakah (charity), using it as a Sabbath tablecloth, or shading his parents with it. To demonstrate his lesson, Hillel shows them workers cleaning the king’s statue. The king’s image should be respected, but his students must understand something more important: that they “are made in God’s image.” He says: “When we keep ourselves clean, we honor God. And that is why taking a bath is an important mitzvah.” The digital illustrations have an animation aesthetic, and the people represented have diverse skin colorings and dark hair, realistic for the ancient Middle Eastern setting. The active-learning approach will engage young readers at home or in religious classes.

An appealing and effective age-appropriate introduction to some of Hillel’s teachings. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68115-546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.

WHILE WE CAN'T HUG

From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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