Review: Shabbat Shalom, Grover!

Shabbat Shalom, Grover!

by Joni Kibort Sussman, illustrated by Tom Leigh

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Julie Ditton

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Shabbat Shalom, Grover is the perfect first Shabbat book for a Jewish toddler. Kar-ben has published a whole series of board books based on the Shalom Sesame TV show, which was an English version of the Israeli Sesame Street. Each book in the series includes the key elements for a Jewish holiday that are important to the little ones.

This sturdy board book shows Grover and his mom preparing for and celebrating Shabbat with friends.  First there are pictures of the preparations: they clean the house, bake challah, and then set the table. We then have pictures of them celebrating Shabbat. These colorful illustrations include lighting the candles and saying the Kiddush and Hamotzi before sitting down to a Shabbat dinner. The text is short and sweet, perfect for a board book. Children will delight in the bright colorful pictures, created by Tom Leigh who has illustrated this whole series as well as many other Sesame Street and Muppet books. Along with the familiar Grover, his mother, and Big Bird, they will also see the Shalom Sesame characters of Abigail and Mahboub. I especially liked the sweet illustration with Grover’s mom and Abigail lighting the candles.

This book is comprised completely of Jewish content and is aimed specifically at Jewish toddlers. It should be considered for the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the picture book category.

The author, Joni Sussman was recently recognized with the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award for her substantial contributions over time to the genre of Jewish children’s literature. She has spent the past twenty years at Kar-Ben Publishing, the leading publisher of Jewish children’s books where Sussman has been responsible for Jewish children’s books for every age ranging from toddlers to Young Adult.

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Reviewer Julie Ditton posts reviews on her Storybook Lady Facebook page and on Instagram As her name would imply, her favorite genre is Children’s Literature. Most of her reviews are children’s books and about half of those have Jewish themes. She has a shelf on Goodreads specifically for Jewish Children’s Books. She also has individual shelves for each Jewish holiday. She enjoys promoting Jewish Children’s literature. and is an active contributor to the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group.