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Review: Journey on the C&O Canal

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 Journey on the C&O Canal by Tovah S. Yavin Menucha Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Judith S. Greenblatt   Buy at Menucha Publishers Journey on the C & O Canal is a warm and loving story. In 1909, twelve year old Orthodox Gabe is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah and eager for adventure. Two weeks on the C & O canal, helping Mr. Brent with his boat and mules, especially lame mule Rosy, sounds like a perfect escape from the drudgery of school, homework, working in the Mr. Lichtenstein’s pharmacy and chores.  Once on the canal, Gabe has his moments of boredom plodding alongside the mules, but he also learns how to speak mule, how to rescue a doll, and how to help a 7 year old learn to read.  Most importantly, he learns a lot about himself.    The essence of the story is its positive and authentic Jewish content. Before Gabe's adventure is allowed to start, several questions must be answered. To honor Gabe's parents, must their permission first be secured? Will Gabe hav

Review: The Rabbi and the Reverend

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 The Rabbi and the Reverend: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight against Silence by Audrey Ades, illustrated by Chiara Fedele Kar-Ben (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Category: Picture Book Reviewer: Rachel Simon   Buy at Bookshop.org The Rabbi and The Reverend: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr. and Their Fight Against Silence   tells the story of two men in their fight for civil rights in the 1960’s. Readers have the pleasure of getting to know a little backstory of King and Prinz’s lives before they met, as well as their interactions together. Prinz left Germany when things began to become difficult for Jews with the Nazis’ rise, and even talked about leaving before things got worse. The picture book is filled with strong illustrations that help enhance the text. The mood varies between hopeful and somber, portraying the struggles Prinz and King encountered as they fought against silence. Overall, The Rabbi and the Reverend is a great introduction

Review: The (Un)Popular Vote

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 The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez Katherine Tegan Books (imprint of HarperCollins) Category: Young Adult Reviewer: Valerie Estelle Frankel Buy at Bookshop.org Mark Adams is a born politician. The son of a California congressman near San Francisco, he runs for student body president when a gay kid is bullied, and he wants to change the system. That’s the big story arc—his campaign, supported by his friends. The complication is that Mark is in hiding. His father’s constituents think he’s still Madison, and his father has threatened to disown him if he tells his story to anyone. Thus the tension with his father, his religion, and his self-doubt are personal, adding to the struggle of keeping this secret from all his friends and his new Jewish love interest.    It’s a charming book—Mark is endearing and very honest. He’s committed to his politics—even over-committed as he refuses to compromise on perfection. This of course can become a fatal flaw as he pushes himself to in

Review: Starlight Soup

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Starlight Soup: A Sukkot Story by Elana Rubinstein, illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House) Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Bridget Hodder Buy at Bookshop.org A girl with a super-sniffer nose, her loving Jewish family who own a restaurant, and her friend whose family own a rival restaurant -- this magical Sukkot tale is pure delight!   Saralee's family has built a wonderful sukkah entwined with leaves and vines and flowers, and they are ready to celebrate the holiday by welcoming diners to their restaurant for joyful feasting. But young Saralee is a bit tired of the usual traditional foods. Standing in the sukkah one evening, under the stars, she decides to use her incredible gift, her super-powerful sense of smell, to capture the scent and taste of starlight and infuse it into a magical soup. When anyone tastes this Starlight Soup, that person instantly experiences their favorite flavor. It's wonderful! It's miracul

Review: Something New for Rosh Hashanah

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Something New for Rosh Hashanah by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Christine Battuz Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Bridget Hodder Buy at Bookshop.org Author Jane Yolen delivers again, this time in a charming picture book that sets up a sing-song rhythm as it encourages kids to start the new year right on Rosh Hashanah. Big, vibrant images of the red-haired main character Rebecca and her feline sidekick will capture the attention of little ones.   Rebecca, like many pre-schoolers, has a problem with trying anything new. In fact, her taste is so limited that she refuses to eat anything green or anything that seems like meat. Kids will identify with Rebecca's choosiness, which brings to mind Russell Hoban's classic "Bread and Jam for Frances." (In fact, this book may be a great choice for reading with kids on the autism spectrum who have limited food choices due to sensory issues.)   By example, Rebecca'

Review: Cool for the Summer

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Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler Wednesday Books (imprint of St. Martins/Macmillian) Category: Young Adult Reviewer: A.R.Vishny Buy at Bookshop.org Cool for the Summer follows Larissa “Lara” Bogdan, a high-school senior poised to at last date the boy she’s always had a crush on, only to find that she can’t stop thinking about the summer she spent with Jasmine Killary…who is now enrolled in her high school. Alternating between the present and flashbacks, we follow Lara as she reconsiders everything she had once thought so certain about who she is, and who she wants.  Adler builds a compelling, developed voice for Lara, and a world peppered with enough details to drop the reader straight into a summer in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. From cafes to parties to diners and long summer nights, the book offers a rich, immersive read that balances the lightness of a summer romance with the difficulties of questioning one’s sexuality, on top of all the other anxieties that high s

Review: Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit With Grandma

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Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma by Annette Schottenfeld, illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham Kalaniot Books (imprint of Endless Mountain) Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Gigi Perlman Pagliarulo Buy at Bookshop.org Family, Jewish traditions, and joyfully celebrating the holiday of Rosh Hashanah center this familiar-seeming tale. Max and his sister Emily are spending the day with Savta, their grandmother visiting from Israel. With the promise of making caramel apples to welcome in a sweet new year, hasty Max is impatient to get started, but Savta has a day of apple picking and orchard frolicking planned as well. Grumpy Max needs to be coaxed into enjoyment, but as the trio picks apples, plays, and tells stories together, he finally comes around to having fun, and even helps create a new Rosh Hashanah family tradition—caramel apples on the first day of the holiday, and apple cake on the second.    The writing and illustration styles are straightforward and a