HILLEL TAKES A BATH

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

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 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

MOST PERFECT YOU

A fresh take on an enduring theme.

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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