Review: A Whale of a Tale

A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story

by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, illustrated by Krystyna Nowak

Relevant Publishers, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Laurie Adler

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When Tova travels to Alaska with her mother during the summer solstice, she wonders how they will know when the Sabbath ends in a land where the sun never sets. She asks native Alaskan animals one by one for a solution but none can help. Finally, a wise orca explains how the position of the sun tells us when the day is over, and reminds Tova of the magic of the Sabbath day. The illustrations are vividly colored and mostly realistic, but are sometimes blurry and unformed. Preschoolers will enjoy hearing Tova consult each native animal, but those same young readers may find the explanation of the sun's positioning and the summer solstice confusing. A Whale of a Tale would be a fine supplement to a Jewish school or synagogue library paired with another nonfiction book that explains the summer solstice to young children.

A Whale of a Tale is published by Relevant Publishing LLC, a small publishing house based in Alaska. It spotlights the diversity of the Sabbath experience for people in different parts of the world. This book's appreciative approach to the Sabbath qualifies it for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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Reviewer Laurie Adler is a librarian in New York who has been reviewing books and working with children of all abilities for over a decade. She currently works in the adult, teen, and children's department at a Nassau County public library.