A heartwarming tale with an abundance of kindness, love, and tradition.

SOOSIE

THE HORSE THAT SAVED SHABBAT

Blessing the challah at the Friday night dinner signals the beginning of Shabbat.

In the early 20th century, the city of Jerusalem is still a small town. Bakery owners Esther and Ezra bake the challahs before dawn on Friday mornings to be ready by daylight for delivery to Jewish families. Jacob, their reliable delivery boy, loads the cart, hitches up their horse, clicks his tongue to her, and off they go. Jacob and Soosie make several stops along the road for people waiting to select their loaves and place payment in a little tin bank affixed to the side of the cart, exchanging greetings of “Shabbat Shalom” as they go. One memorable Friday, Jacob is very sick, but he and the bakers are confident that Soosie can do the job on her own. After all, she knows the routine very well. They put a note under the tin bank so their customers will understand the unusual change. It works perfectly, and the exhausted Soosie arrives home with a full bank and an empty stomach. She is given the trio’s gratitude, a meal, and a well-earned rest. Halberstadt’s cartoon illustrations are filled with energy and emotion, vividly depicting characters and important objects in bright colors, with some backgrounds in gray, and just enough detail to set the scene. Diverse townspeople are seen with many different skin tones and a wide variety of dress indicating the scattered places from which they migrated to Palestine/Israel. A detailed author’s note explains the tale’s origins, a bit of Jerusalem’s history, and the rituals of Shabbat.

A heartwarming tale with an abundance of kindness, love, and tradition. (Picture book. 4-11)

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: 978-0-9988527-7-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Endless Mountains Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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