An attractive celebration, though not an introductory one.

IS IT ROSH HASHANAH YET?

A bucolic autumn in a country setting heralds the Jewish New Year.

A young family with two children (brother and sister, judging by attire) gets ready to celebrate the holiday. The simple, rhyming text and the refrain, “Rosh Hashanah is on its way,” will encourage young listeners to participate in read-alouds. The family gathers apples in an orchard, and then Mom buys pomegranates as the child narrator notes it is “a fruit I’ve never tried!” (One holiday custom is to eat a new seasonal fruit.) The text then says: “And we hope to do a mitzvah for each of the seeds inside….” This line is on a double-page spread showing the siblings watching Mom’s hands break the fruit apart to show the many seeds inside, but the word “mitzvah” (“commandment” in the religious sense or “good deed” in more secular usage) is not explained. The kids make cards and hear the shofar blown at a religious class (attended by children of various skin tones and a white boy in a wheelchair). After synagogue, the diverse congregants greet one another with “Shanah Tovah.” Then friends and relatives of different ages and races arrive for the festive meal (the protagonists’ family is white). The pleasant, soft-edged, matte illustrations depict an idealized rural world. The lack of background information suggests an audience familiar with the traditions shown.

An attractive celebration, though not an introductory one. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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