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Review: Passover, Here I Come!

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Passover, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg, illustrated by Emanuel Wiemans Grosset & Dunlap (imprint of Penguin Random House), 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Karin Fisher-Golton Buy at Bookshop.org Passover, Here I Come! is the kind of book families will bring out each year to introduce or remind children of Passover traditions. This warm, colorful collection of short poems is the Passover addition to author D. J. Steinberg’s Here I Come! series, which includes books on starting preschool to second grade as well as books on other holidays—secular, Christian, and Jewish. Steinberg’s poems come in a variety of structures, including a poetic recipe for matzoh brei! Young readers will be engaged by the poems’ rhyme, rhythm, and humor. Topics include ways families prepare for and celebrate the holiday; child-oriented traditions (such as singing “Ma nishtana” and searching for the afikomen); and a brief version of the Exodus story. Names, vocabulary, and images depict an Ashkenazi

Review: Pinky Bloom and the Case of the Silent Shofar

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Pinky Bloom and the Case of the Silent Shofar by Judy Press, illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2022 Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Stacy Mozer Buy at Bookshop.org Pinky Bloom and the Case of the Silent Shofar is the second Pinky Bloom book I have reviewed for this blog, and it's just as much fun as the first. It's about a Jewish Brooklynite girl named Pinky (short for Penina) who solves crimes with the help of her little brother Ari. This series continues to be a good example of this genre, with Pinky taking on pet sitting duties, mysterious goings on at the pet shop, and her dad's inexplicably silent shofar. It would definitely be enjoyed by 6-8 year olds who enjoy mystery series such as A to Z Mysteries, Cam Jansen mysteries, or Ballpark Mysteries. This book has positive and authentic Jewish religious or cultural content and is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format, and illustratio

Review: Until the Blueberries Grow

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Until the Blueberries Grow by Jennifer Wolf Kam, illustrated by Sally Walker PJ Publishing, 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Shanna Silva The reader is introduced to Ben and his Zayde, who are best buds. They spend a lot of time together and Zayde appears to be Ben’s primary male role model (the illustrations feature a mom and younger sibling, but no dad). When it’s time for Zayde to downsize and move, Ben is unable to accept this change. He convinces Zayde to delay his plans multiple times. A "for sale" sign subtly shows the reader the status of the move. During the postponement, Ben and Zayde celebrate Sukkot, Hanukkah, and Passover. Interestingly, the larger family is not shown celebrating holidays or spending time together. It’s all about Ben and his smartly dressed Zayde. As time passes, it’s clear that Zayde can’t defer any longer. An ominous illustration of a steep staircase shows the reader what Zayde sees, and how his needs have changed with age. Eventually, he

Review: Miriam and the Sasquatch: A Rosh Hashanah Story

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Miriam and the Sasquatch by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Tamara Anegon Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Linda Elovitz Marshall Buy at Bookshop.org It’s early fall, and Rosh Hashanah is coming. Miriam gazes at an apple orchard, imagining a delicious honey-and-apple holiday feast. She enters the orchard, not to pick apples but to practice blowing her shofar where the sound won’t bother anyone. As she practices, she hears munching and crunching, gets bopped on the head by an apple, and discovers a sasquatch sitting in the tree, eating apples that she needs for Rosh Hashanah. She tells Sasquatch to stop, but Sassy keeps eating. She blows the shofar. Sassy howls back and keeps eating. She throws an apple. Sasquatch throws it back… and the apple hits a beehive, causing bees to swarm toward Miriam and Sasquatch. Miriam and Sassy run toward the pond for safety, but Miriam slips and falls. Sasquatch picks her up, and carries her to th

Review: How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat

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How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat written and illustrated by Varda Livney PJ Publishing, 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Belinda Brock It's Erev Shabbat and time for the little boy in this story to get up and prepare for Shabbat at Savta's. Who wakes him up? His penguin friend! So the reader immediately knows this story will be fanciful. Next, the boy packs his backpack with things that help make Shabbat special, like candles, challah, and  grape juice. Fred, the blue elephant, picks them up and off they go on their fun adventure. They travel through the jungle and then the boy and the penguin board a rocket ship to the moon, float on a cloud, and ride a flying bus to reach their destination. Along the way, the boy stops to buy flowers for Savta. Happily, they arrive at Savta's just in time for Shabbat. The final scene shows Savta, the boy, his parents (who look like the bus driver and flower seller), the penguin, and the elephant happily sitting at the Shabbat t

Review: The Vanishing

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The Vanishing by David Michael Slater Library Tales Publishing, 2022 Category: Young Adult Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus Buy at Bookshop.org The story of the Golem goes back generations. The original Golem was created to help the Jewish people of Prague during a time of peril. Now author David Michael Slater uses a similar fantasy to make a very disturbing topic more palatable for the teen reader. This is a story of the faith, strength, and fortitude of a young girl as she helps her friend survive the most horrific experience of his life. Sophie Siegel and her parents have been moving from town to town as the pogroms are getting more prevalent. The rules increase, restricting the lives of the Jewish people. Sophie doesn't want to wear a yellow star on her jacket or stop going to school. The day she is finally to be awarded for her studiousness and be named Top Student in her class, the Nazis come to school and send all the Jewish children home. She and her friend Giddy next door s

Review: The Prince of Steel Pier

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The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2022 Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Jacqueline Jules Buy at Bookshop.org Thirteen-year-old Joey Goodman spends every August in Atlantic City. His grandparents and Uncle Sol own the St. Bonaventure, an aging hotel on the Boardwalk which caters to elderly Jews. Every summer, at least one hotel guest passes away. And that is how The Prince of Steel Pier begins, with a line guaranteed to grab attention: “It’s nine o’clock on Friday morning and Mrs. Goldberg is definitely dead.” After seeing Mrs. Goldberg, Joey vomits and the rest of the family comments on his sensitive nature. Joey is tired of being called “squirt” by his two older brothers. He wants to prove himself as being brave and capable. But when he accidentally gets involved with Atlantic City mobsters, he finds that the support of family is exactly what he needs. This novel, which takes place in the 1970’s, just as the casinos w