Review: Shoham's Bangle

Shoham's Bangle

by Sarah Sassoon, illustrated by Noa Kelner

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel J. Fremmer
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What a delight it is to be invited into Shoham’s warm, multigenerational home in Iraq via the pages of Sarah Sassoon’s Shoham’s Bangle. When the family departs for Israel, the reader, too, mourns for the home and fig tree by the Tigris River that they are leaving behind. Shoham’s titular bangle is especially missed, as the Iraqi government did not allow the emigrating Jews to bring their jewelry. Shoham’s grandmother, Nana Aziza, comforts her, comparing their journey to the original Exodus, and entrusts her granddaughter with carrying the pita (instead of matzo) to eat on their arrival in Israel. When she bites into it, she finds a wonderful (and hard to chew) surprise - her hidden bangle!

This book is a lovely introduction to Iraqi Jewry and its own exodus, which is handled deftly and lightly. A short author’s note mentions the airlifts to Israel by name so that interested readers can investigate further. Shoham’s Bangle will certainly join my collection of what I call “family heirloom” books. Like the best of those, it is both specific and universal. Immigrants and refugees everywhere - and even children who have simply lost a meaningful object, or who have a special relationship with a grandparent - will relate.

The illustrations by Noa Kellner effectively utilize different amounts of white space and different perspectives (such as the view from the airplane upon takeoff and landing), and bring the colors of Iraq and Israel alive. This book is certainly a candidate for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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Reviewer Rachel J. Fremmer is a lawyer-turned-elementary-school librarian. She is a native New Yorker and lives there with her husband and two daughters, ages 17 and 14, who are rapidly outgrowing her area of book expertise. She is continually inspired by the city even though apartment living means she is running out of room for her picture book collection. When she is not reading or writing, she loves baking and doing crossword puzzles.


  1. Great review, Rachel, and the book sounds like a "must read."


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