Review: Happy 'Roo Year: It's Rosh Hashanah

Happy 'Roo Year: It's Rosh Hashanah

by Jessica Hickman, illustrated by Elissambura

Kar-Ben (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Susan Kusel

A family of Australian kangaroos celebrates Rosh Hashanah in this board book, with rhyming text that is appropriate for very young listeners. Children who are familiar with the holiday will recognize the shofar, apples and honey, round challah, and more. While most of the holiday foods mentioned are Ashkenazi (brisket, fish, honey cake), the addition of dates to the menu adds a Sephardic touch. The kangaroos are brown, purple, and pink, which can be seen as symbolizing a mixed-race family. Some (including pink 'roos) wear kippot but are not explicitly identified by gender. The brown, kippah-wearing Dad prepares dinner, in a nice disruption of gender expectations. An inclusive atmosphere is displayed in the synagogue, where "Koalas, wombats, wallabies--here everyone belongs." The rainbow stained glass may be read as another nod to diversity and inclusion, yet all of these markers are quite subtle. Children will simply enjoy seeing entertaining animals, cheerfully illustrated, enjoying a happy holiday. A solid choice for young children.

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Reviewer Susan Kusel is one of the co-admins of The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, along with Heidi Rabinowitz and Chava Pinchuck. She has turned a life as a book lover into many careers as an author, librarian, and buyer for a bookstore. She has served on many book award committees including the Caldecott Medal and as the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. She loves biking, cross-stitching and of course, reading. The Passover Guest is her debut book. Learn more at