A heartwarming slice of neighborly love, caring, and sharing.

THE CHRISTMAS MITZVAH

A Jewish man and his family perform good deeds for non-Jews on Christmas Eve.

Al Rosen, who celebrates Hanukkah, loves Christmas, a holiday of “peace on earth and goodwill to humanity.” He does good deeds, or mitzvahs, for neighbors, at first taking the Christmas Eve shift at the local newsstand so the regular clerk can spend the night with his family. Later he goes on the radio to volunteer to work for Christians on Christmas Eve. His labors take him from grocery store to mail room to parking lot to barn. For many years he performs these many different jobs by himself and sometimes with his son and grandchildren, becoming a “local legend.” People of other faiths, Christian and Muslim, then return the favor on the Jewish High Holidays for Al and his family. But “years piled up like drifts in a blizzard,” and one year Al is too old—but in a grand finale, all join together to light the Hanukkah menorah: It’s a veritable “throng of God’s children.” An author’s note references the real Al Rosen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who performed these acts starting in 1969. The brightly colored, busy illustrations fill the pages with a nicely diverse collection of active and energetic folk working and smiling as a community.

A heartwarming slice of neighborly love, caring, and sharing. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939547-94-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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While this book and its companion appear to be meant for the lower elementary grades, these British imports will require too...

REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

From the Children in Our World series

With this series entry, Roberts attempts to help readers understand that their peers in many parts of the world are suffering and becoming refugees because of “wars, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.”

The book also speaks about migrants as people who “leave for a happier, healthier life, to join family members overseas, or because they don’t have enough money and need a job.” This effort aims to educate child readers, reassuring them that “most people have a safe and comfortable home to live in” and while “it can be upsetting to think about what life is like for refugees and migrants,” kids can do something to help. Some practical suggestions are provided and websites included for several aid organizations. Companion title Poverty and Hunger, by Louise Spilsbury and also illustrated by Kai, follows the same format, presenting a double-page spread with usually one to three short paragraphs on a topic. A yellow catlike animal with a black-and-white striped tail is found in every picture in both books and seems an odd unifying feature. Mixed-media illustrations in muted colors feature stylized children and adults against handsomely textured areas; they exude an empty sense of unreality in spite of racial diversity and varied landscapes. By trying too hard to make comparisons accessible, Roberts ends up trivializing some concepts. Speaking about camping and refugee camps in the same sentence is very misleading.

While this book and its companion appear to be meant for the lower elementary grades, these British imports will require too much adult intervention to be very useful. (bibliography, websites, glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4380-5020-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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PIES FROM NOWHERE

HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT

Despite significant danger to themselves, Georgia Gilmore and the Club from Nowhere raised support for the Montgomery bus boycott.

Georgia Gilmore was an excellent cook and baker. The third-person narrator explains that when Rosa Parks was jailed, Georgia had already been boycotting the Montgomery buses (due to mistreatment from drivers) for two months. Tired of injustice, when the citywide boycott began, Georgia wanted to support the cause. So she made use of her remarkable culinary skills: Along with other women, she cooked and baked, donating their sales to the cause. To avoid retribution, the proceeds were donated anonymously. The boycott is explained simply—even children with no prior knowledge of segregation or the civil rights movement will be able to follow the story with little exposition. Though Georgia eventually faced retaliation, she remained true to her beliefs and became an entrepreneur, creating a safe meeting space for civil rights leaders. The text placement sometimes feels clunky, and some of the single-page spreads can feel confusing in juxtaposition (though the art is otherwise well-executed). Despite these minor flaws, the message that, like Georgia, everyone can find a place in the fight for social justice is clear. Pair with Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison’s Let the Children March (2017) and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Jade Johnson’s Someday Is Now (2017) or other titles that highlight lesser-known figures for a fuller understanding of the civil rights movement.

Empowering. (sources, author’s note, recipe) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0720-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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