It’s hard to go wrong with a story about Chelm.


A poor teacher and his wife worry that they won’t be able to afford to celebrate the Shavuot holiday with traditional blintzes and hatch a savings plan with good intentions but ridiculous results.

Gitele and Yankl are residents of Chelm, populated by the wisest fools. They take an old, dirty, wheeled trunk, cut a hole in the top, and vow to each throw in a coin every day, thus collecting enough to shop for and make blintzes. But left alone, each spouse relies on the other to do the saving, so when the trunk is opened at the end of two weeks, only the original two coins are inside. An argument ensues, and in the scuffle, the couple ends up in the trunk, which then closes and begins to roll down the hill. As it approaches the synagogue, Gitele and Yankl’s screams from within cause the townsfolk, comically depicted with wide necks and long noses, to fear that a dybbuk, or demon, is inside. The trunk is opened and the disoriented couple’s story prompts the rabbi to forbid a teacher living on a hill with a trunk on wheels from making blintzes. While no explanation of either the holiday or the reason for its customary meal is given, the absurdity of the story and its nonsensical conclusion will be appreciated by those familiar with these Eastern European noodlehead tales.

It’s hard to go wrong with a story about Chelm. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7985-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.


A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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