Review: Alone Together on Dan Street

Alone Together on Dan Street

by Erica Lyons, illustrated by Jennifer Jamieson

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House Publishing), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Arlene Schenker

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A young girl, Mira, is stuck at home in her Jerusalem apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her parents, while working at home, take breaks to bake cookies with Mira and her brother and play games in the evenings, but Mira still misses the noisy Jerusalem streets and her usual activities. She’s happy the family will get to celebrate Passover, but unhappy that there will be no guests this year. When she practices the four questions on her balcony (the only place she can be by herself), she hears Mr. Blum practicing on his balcony and realizes that many neighbors will be alone at their seders. Mira comes up with a clever plan for everyone to be separate but together. The mitzvah grows as Mira’s hand-made, artistic invitations are passed from balcony to balcony along with a different food contributed by each neighbor to the next. The music returns to the neighborhood when the voices from every balcony and window join together to sing the four questions.

Based on a true story, the book is rich in Jewish content and setting. Mira’s dilemma of wanting to share Passover with others, while having to isolate because of the virus, is written in a child-friendly way. The colorful illustrations project a happy mood despite the hardships of the pandemic. The book depicts the neighbors as Jews of different ages from diverse backgrounds. One small quibble: while the four questions are spelled out in English and transliterated Hebrew, some explanation of them would have been a nice addition. That said, readers will enjoy meeting Mira, a spunky girl who demonstrates Jewish values of kindness, compassion and community.

[Ed. note - This book was named to the Association of Jewish Libraries' Spring 2022 Holiday Highlights list.]

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Reviewer Arlene Schenker has a degree in Child Development from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from New York University Law School. She has worked as a New York City primary grade teacher, a lawyer, divorce mediator, and a community activist and volunteer. She now spends most of her time reading and writing picture books.