Review: But Perhaps, Just Maybe

But Perhaps, Just Maybe...

by Tuvia Dikman Oro, illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt

Green Bean Books, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rebecca Klempner

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From the moment we meet the main characters of Tuvia Dikman Oro's But Perhaps, Just Maybe, we can tell they have opposite personalities. Thanks to expressive illustrations by Menahem Halberstadt, we can tell Hedgehog has an optimistic disposition and that Duck is a cynic. On their way to a bike shop, they encounter three neighbors–Cat, Billy Goat, and Fox– who disturb Duck and Hedgehog's plans on this sunny afternoon. During each confrontation Duck assumes the worst of their neighbors. Hedgehog, however, suggests giving them the benefit of the doubt. When the friends reach the bike shop, they discover that Hedgehog was right, and all the animals enjoy a pleasant snack in the shade. Halberstadt’s palette combines earth tones and more vibrant ones in a quirky mix which really vibes with Oro’s text, which is translated here from the original Hebrew by Gila Kahn-Hoffman.

Without stating outright, “This is a Jewish story,” But Perhaps, Just Maybe is a *very* Jewish story. The verse from Pirkei Avot that appears on the first page of the book (before the title page) provides the basis for the story of Hedgehog and Duck: "Joshua ben Perahiah would say: Find for yourself a teacher, choose for yourself a friend, and judge everyone with the scale weighted in their favor (1:6)." It’s a lesson that anyone, regardless of faith, can appreciate, but which is particularly appropriate for young Jewish readers. The storytelling might be a little straightforward for older readers, but kids 3 - 6 will enjoy this book.

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Reviewer Rebecca Klempner has published five books for Jewish children—most famously A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, and Glixman in a Fix. Her newest, Adina at Her Best, became a November 2021 pick for PJ Our Way. Her stories, essays, and articles for adult audiences have appeared in a variety of venues, including Tablet Magazine, The Layers Project Magazine, Jewish Review of Books, The Wisdom Daily, Hevria, Kveller, The Jewish Press, Hamodia and In addition to writing, she has edited picture books, including some of the What Should Danny Do? series.