Review: How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat

How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat

written and illustrated by Varda Livney

PJ Publishing, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Belinda Brock

It's Erev Shabbat and time for the little boy in this story to get up and prepare for Shabbat at Savta's. Who wakes him up? His penguin friend! So the reader immediately knows this story will be fanciful. Next, the boy packs his backpack with things that help make Shabbat special, like candles, challah, and  grape juice. Fred, the blue elephant, picks them up and off they go on their fun adventure. They travel through the jungle and then the boy and the penguin board a rocket ship to the moon, float on a cloud, and ride a flying bus to reach their destination. Along the way, the boy stops to buy flowers for Savta. Happily, they arrive at Savta's just in time for Shabbat. The final scene shows Savta, the boy, his parents (who look like the bus driver and flower seller), the penguin, and the elephant happily sitting at the Shabbat table.

The whimsical and child-friendly illustrations are done in muted pastels that suit the gentle story. The boy, the flower seller, and Savta all have brown skin, while the bus driver has white skin.

How to Get to Savta's for Shabbat is intended for the youngest readers and as such, is short and simple. It includes some Hebrew (boker tov) and supplies a translation on the page (good morning).

This book offers a positive view of the anticipation and effort that precede a joyful Shabbat shared with family and friends. It also underscores the idea of Shabbat happening in a different realm or space. Young children will relate to the familiar aspects of this story and also find humor in its imaginative narrative.

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Belinda Brock earned a MS in Literacy and Language from University of Chicago and her background is in teaching and educational publishing. She authored GG and Mamela, the first children’s book to address hospice care. Her essays have been featured on Kveller, Jewish Women’s Archive, and HuffPost. She has a picture book biography being released in 2022.