Review: Shabbos Guess Who? A Lift-the Flap Book

Shabbos Guess Who? A Lift-the-Flap Book

by Ariella Stern, illustrated by Patti Argoff

Hachai Publishing, 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili
Buy from Hachai

Shabbos Guess Who? is the latest installment in Hachai Publishing's lift-the flap series. Through twelve rhyming riddles, the story centers around a presumably Ashkenazi Orthodox family, beginning with preparations before the onset of Shabbat, including cleaning the house and getting dressed up. It then proceeds throughout Friday night and Saturday, ending with a melaveh malkah after Havdalah at the conclusion of Shabbat. Where there are two pronunciations for a given answer, both are included, i.e. zmiros / zmirot, seudas(t) shlishis(t). The detailed cartoon illustrations are bright and colorful in keeping with the lively and joyous atmosphere of the book.

Even though this is a book geared towards the youngest of readers, it contains an impressive amount of information. Little hands will especially enjoy lifting the flaps to show the answers, which, when revealed, change the actual picture. For example, after lifting the flap on the closet to reveal Shabbat clothes, the boy in the family is now dressed in his finest. My favorite scene, though, was the one around the lighting of the Shabbat candles, as you sense the tranquility of the holy day infusing the home. While some of the responses to the riddles might be easy to guess, like Kiddush, for example, some might be less familiar, like muktzah things, defined as objects which are set aside from use, like markers, glue or battery-operated toys. However, since the book includes a comprehensive glossary of seventeen terms, no assumptions are made about the reader's knowledge (even Shabbos / Shabbat is included), making this book accessible to any family or preschool wishing to read and learn about the beauty of a traditional Shabbat experience. 

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Reviewer Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili is the author of MYSTERY AT PEASANT'S INN, JUST ONE MATCH and MYSTERY AT NIGHTLIGHT RESORT. Her other titles include SHLOIMIE’S LETTER, which was a PJ Our Way selection, and THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST WATCH, which was showcased in Our Canada magazine. Born and raised in Toronto, she still resides there with her family, where she enjoys working as a librarian in an all-boys elementary school. (Bio illustration courtesy of Michael Biniashvili.)