Review: Shoshi's Shabbat

Shoshi's Shabbat

by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Candlewick Press, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Jacqueline Jules

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Six days a week, Shoshi, a little ox, helps Farmer Simon plows his fields. On the Sabbath, she enjoys relaxing and playing with Simon’s grandchildren. Life is pleasant until Farmer Simon feels “the weight of his years” and sells Shoshi to his neighbor, Yohanan. When Shoshi’s new owner expects her to work seven days a week, she plants “her four feet on the ground” and firmly refuses. Yohanan is mystified until he considers how his neighbor Simon enjoys a day of rest with his family each week. Does the little ox understand the importance of Shabbat? Is she trying to teach him something?

Shoshi’s Shabbat celebrates the beauty of observing the Sabbath with lyrical language and delightful illustrations. Young readers will fall in love with this adorable little ox who defies her new owner with humorous facial expressions. An author’s note explains more about the midrash the story is based on, of Rabbi Yohanan ben Torta who was said to have chosen to study Judaism after purchasing a cow from a Jewish farmer. The author’s own love of Shabbat shines through. Shoshi’s Shabbat is an excellent retelling, beautifully illustrated. It deserves consideration for the Sydney Taylor Book Award. 

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Reviewer Jacqueline Jules is the author of fifty books for young readers including The Porridge Pot Goblin, The Hardest Word, Picnic at Camp Shalom, Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva, Light the Menorah: A Hanukkah Handbook, and Never Say a Mean Word Again. Her middle grade verse novel, My Name is Hamburger, is a PJ Our Way selection. She lives on Long Island and enjoys talking long walks along the water. Visit her online