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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A thought-provoking way of looking at the world, and imaginative kids will love it.

CAN YOU SEE ME?

A BOOK ABOUT FEELING SMALL

A journey into the world of big and little and a nudge to think outside the box.

This whimsical, quirky, and engaging picture book, a Spanish import by a Turkish creator, takes readers on an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland–type exploration of perceptive relativity. What is little to one may be big to another; if readers were as strong as ants, they could lift rhinos; if they could jump as high as fleas, they could reach the top of the Eiffel Tower—these are just some of the thought-provoking ideas presented. The narrative (appealingly hand-lettered) is accompanied by collaged illustrations that are just as whimsical and that cleverly build as the story unfolds. “If your foot could grow as fast as a caterpillar can during its life cycle… / …your foot would be 3 times larger after just a few days. / It would keep growing until…it would not fit in a school bus. Like this elephant.” Huh? Readers may ask. But the introduction of the pachyderm leads to the idea of an elephant’s big footprint—which, if it filled with water, could be habitat for 60 different species. While the story unfolds in what appears to be a rather dizzying array of free-form thoughts, it holds itself together—just—although readers will want to go through it more than once to grasp all the clever connections. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A thought-provoking way of looking at the world, and imaginative kids will love it. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0837-6

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something...

CLIMBING SHADOWS

POEMS FOR CHILDREN

This collection of 20 poems inspired by the poet’s volunteer work in a kindergarten lunchroom is united by authorship; entries address a variety of topics and are expressed in multiple styles.

The subject matter is generally accessible and of interest, including family vignettes (“The Snow Is Melting”), feelings (“afterschool”), animals (“a spider way of thinking,” “Owl Secrets”), and toys (“My Cars Never Sleep”). Length and format vary too: “Little Yellow House” is only nine words long; others have several stanzas. Not all utilize traditional capitalization and punctuation. Some layouts are straightforward, left-justified and single- or double-spaced; others feature irregular spaces between lines or between phrases on the same line but are not quite concrete poetry. Figurative language is especially effective in “The Envelope,” a litany of ways a child thinks of their mother. Most read well out loud, with appropriate scansion and without the pitfall of forced rhyme. Derby’s sophisticated illustrations, done in watercolor, digital collage, and India ink, have a subdued tone and leave room for the imagination; some are simple, small vignettes on white space, while others feature gently washy backgrounds.

The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something for readers with varying preferences. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-095-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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