Review: Thank You, Modeh Ani

 Thank You, Modeh Ani

by Rabbi Alyson Solomon, illustrated by Bryony Clarkson

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House)

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Dena Bach

It’s hard to keep still while reading Rabbi Alyson Solomon’s Thank You, Modeh Ani. This is definitely a book that should be read aloud, with plenty of wiggle room for the child readers to stand, dance, and clap along with the narrative. Solomon’s book is a fine interpretation of Modeh Ani and Asher Yatzar, two prayers that are said upon waking up, that understands the physicality of these prayers that celebrate all the things that the human body can do. A note at the end further explains the prayers and their context and how the reader can incorporate them into their day.

Bryony Taylor’s collage illustrations are lovely and lively and are fully in keeping with the call of the text to wake up and move. Taylor brings all kinds of diversity that are not specified in the narrative, including the differently abled, differences in age, race, body type, religious expression, and even a rainbow or two. An added bonus is the extremely exuberant dog that the child reader can follow through the narrative.

The book is centered around the specific prayer of Modeh Ani, but the positive approach to the Jewish content can work to expand the ideas presented outside of purely a religious context. It is appropriate to the target audience of K-1 in style and format, but this sweet book may be even more appealing to preschool age children who can appreciate the need to start every day by getting up and dancing.

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Reviewer Dena Bach has a BA in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, a BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MA/MFA in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children from Simmons University. She has worked as an artist, a bookstore clerk, teacher of two to five-year-olds, and an art teacher. She is comfortable only when there is a large mountain of children’s books on her bedside table.