Review: Big Bad Wolf's Yom Kippur

Big Bad Wolf's Yom Kippur

by David Sherrin, illustrated by Martin Morón

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2023

Category: Picture Books 
Reviewer: Doreen Klein Robinson

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Big Bad Wolf’s Yom Kippur is a delightful story that twists the conventional tale on its… tail! Author David Sherrin does a clever job mashing up two favorite fables: Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs.

The story takes place during Yom Kippur, but for Big Bad Wolf it’s just another day of being bad, until he accepts Raccoon’s invitation to go to synagogue. Rabbi’s hug and Cantor’s cheerful singing might just make a big bad wolf change his ways. But then he remembers that wolves don’t like hugs, or singing, or changing. Big Bad Wolves like being bad.

His encounter with Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny has him almost apologizing, a sign that he is starting to change. As he heads home, he feels something warm in his heart. Then he sees the Three Little Pigs, but instead of preying on them, he helps test the sturdiness of each home. When they thank him, he gets that warm fuzzy feeling again. Could Big Bad Wolf be changing?

Alone at home, he hears the shofar blow, signaling the end of Yom Kippur. A knock on the door reveals the ensemble cast that has come to wish Big Bad Wolf a Shanah Tovah and shower him with compliments. He responds by apologizing for slamming the door on Raccoon*, for taking Little Red’s apple cake, and for scaring the Three Little Pigs.

Once again, Big Bad Wolf feels that flutter and warmth in his heart, but this time he acknowledges that this is exactly how one should feel on Yom Kippur. The final illustration shows the group sharing a break-the-fast feast of yummy desserts. What could be sweeter than that?

By incorporating the Jewish High Holy Day and universal themes of forgiveness and change, Sherrin’s retelling is fresh and fun. Beautiful illustrations by Martin Morón feature lots of Jewish representation, including a mezuzah, stained glass windows embedded with Jewish stars, a tallit, and kippot.

A short author’s note at the end of the story explains the Jewish tradition of t’shuvah - returning to our best selves, and also includes social emotional learning questions that the adult reader can use to engage children in meaningful conversation. Jewish and non-Jewish readers will easily grasp the concepts of self-reflection and how to change in this delightful story that entertains as much as it educates. This story is a strong Sydney Taylor candidate.

*It should be noted that there is an error in the text - Big Bad Wolf never slammed the door on Raccoon. The publisher, Apples & Honey, is aware of the mistake. This scene was edited out from the original manuscript, but the error will not be fixed until the book is reprinted.

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Reviewer Doreen Klein Robinson has over 25 years of storytelling experience, as a career journalist and editor for community newspapers. She is the recipient of SCBWI Florida’s 2023 Mirrors and Windows Scholarship and received Honorable Mention for the 2023 PB Rising Stars Mentorship program. In 2022 she was selected by PJ Library to attend the Picture Book Summer Camp for Emerging Writers at Highlights Foundation.


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