Review: Something New for Rosh Hashanah

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

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's parents demonstrate for her that trying new things is essential to this holiday season (though kids might be somewhat confused by an illustration depicting the father retaining the mustache he had decided to shave off on an earlier page). The climactic breakthrough comes when at the Rosh Hashanah table of traditional foods, Rebecca decides on her own to try a single green bean. Young ones will understand how something small, like a green bean, can grow into something very big as time goes by!
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Reviewer Bridget Hodder is the author of THE RAT PRINCE from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a Middle-Grade fantasy "classic" and finalist for the Aslan Award, as well as a starred selection for the International Literacy Association's Children's Choice list. Her upcoming Middle Grade time-travel, THE BUTTON BOX, with themes of shared Sephardic Jewish and Muslim history, is co-authored with Fawzia Gilani Williams, and is coming in April 2022 from Kar-Ben.