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Showing posts with the label Board Book

Review: Shabbat Shalom, Grover!

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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 Buy at Bookshop.org 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

Review: P is for Pastrami: The ABCs of Jewish Food

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P is for Pastrami: The ABCs of Jewish Food written and illustrated by Alan Silberberg Penguin Random House, 2024 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Mirele Kessous Buy at Bookshop.org Food alphabet books for children have been trendy for some time, but now we can all celebrate Jewish heritage with P is For Pastrami: The ABCs of Jewish Food . Each page presents a Jewish food that begins with a letter from A to Z. Bright, humorous illustrations will appeal to young children, and the bubble captions help explain unfamiliar foods to newbies. The book bills itself as portraying foods all over the world (injera makes an appearance), but it does lean Ashkenaz. The main focus is Jewish food, but it would be relatable to non-Jewish readers and educational too. It’s cute and snappy and delightful–exactly what you’d want in a board book for the younger kinderlach. I even learned a thing or two. Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze?  Click here! Reviewer Mirele Ke

Review: Happy Purim, Grover!

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Happy Purim, Grover! by Joni Kibort Sussman, illustrated by Tom Leigh Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2024 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Julie Ditton Buy at Bookshop.org Happy Purim, Grover! is a perfect Purim board book for Jewish toddlers. This book presents the familiar Sesame Street character as he celebrates Purim. Don’t expect the whole Megillah. This is a board book after all. But in just a few pages, little ones see these adorable characters doing all the things that they would do. After Grover bakes hamantaschen with his mommy, he celebrates with his friends. They deliver Purim goody baskets, dress up for the costume parade, listen to the Megillah reading and shake their groggers. Of course, they finish the day enjoying the fresh hamantaschen. Joni Sussman has included the key elements of the holiday that are important to the little ones. Children will delight in the bright colorful pictures, created by Tom Leigh who has illustrated numerous Sesam

Review: I Am a Tree

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I Am a Tree: A Playful Action Rhyme by Hindy Feldman, illustrated by Patti Argoff Hachai Publishing, 2023 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz Buy at Hachai This simple board book shows an Orthodox Jewish girl and her two younger brothers, enjoying the great outdoors and enacting a fun rhyming game that represents the life cycle of a tree. On each spread, we see the natural growth from seed to tree alongside the children's movements. For instance, "I am a seed, so tiny and small" shows a variety of seeds on the left side, and the children crouched down pretending to be tiny seeds on the right. The illustrations are bright, cheerful, and outdoorsy. The children are depicted in casual Orthodox dress (with the youngest in footie pajamas), and credit is given to Hashem for helping the trees grow. This action rhyme will work well with young children and be welcome at Tu B'shvat or any time of year. Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor

Review: Where Do Diggers Celebrate Hanukkah?

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Where Do Diggers Celebrate Hanukkah? by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade Random House Books for Young Readers, 2023 Category: Pictures Books Reviewer: Kathryn Hall Buy at Bookshop.org The rhyming verses of this board book are fun to read aloud. There is no plot, and the title question is not answered, but that does not matter when you see cherry pickers in a line holding up lighted candles to form a menorah. Christian Slade's illustrations of heavy equipment in different locations are cheerful and colorful, very appropriate for preschoolers. This book is suitable for young children up to age 6, especially those who like trucks. There is Hanukkah content on every page, so it is integral to the story. The Diggers are a series of board books featuring friendly construction vehicles that--in other books--sleep at night, go on vacation, say I love you, and celebrate Christmas and Easter. Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze?  Click

Review: Counting on Shabbat

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Counting on Shabbat by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Petronela Dostalova Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Belinda Brock Buy at Bookshop.org Shabbat is coming and everyone is getting ready to celebrate. It appears that a senior will be observing the holiday alone (albeit with his well-loved cats). But a family joins him, bringing food and smiles to everyone’s faces as they gather around the Shabbat table. The story, told in gentle rhyme, also introduces the youngest reader to the concept of counting. In fact, counting does double duty in this delightful board book. A toddler can practice counting from one to ten, but will also learn that we count on each other for kindness. This year has seen the release of several Jewish-themed board books and that is a good thing. In general, we need more Jewish board books, and specifically, more like this one. Somehow, the author has managed to combine the concept of counting, a positive

Review: Challah!

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Challah! written & illustrated by Varda Livney PJ Publishing, 2023 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz Louis, a toddler bunny rabbit, utters his first word ever at Shabbat dinner. It's "challah," of course! Throughout the rest of the week, Louis proudly uses his new word to describe puffy objects from clouds to trees to sheep. When Shabbat comes around again, he surprises and delights his parents by taking one look at the challah and saying his second new word: "Shabbat!" Young children will enjoy chiming in with the "challah" refrain and identifying the various puffy objects. The reinforcement of the days of the week (Jewishly listed from one Friday to the next) is another point of educational interest for the preschool set. Gentle line drawings in pastel colors show a cheerful anthropomorphic family of blue, pink, and green rabbits. Notes on the back cover of the board book provide more information about Shabbat and challah, inclu

Review: Mazal Bueno!

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Mazal Bueno! by Sarah Aroeste, illustrated by Taia Morley Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Bridget Hodder Buy at Bookshop.org This lively board book introduces little ones to a Sephardic family and their special way of celebrating blessings in their everyday lives. The more common Jewish phrase "Mazal Tov" becomes the Sephardic Ladino "Mazal Bueno!" in this appealing tiny tale. As a Sephardic author, Aroeste is able to incorporate a casual, genuine Sephardic perspective into this sweet and postitive slice of life. The book focuses on the small achievements of a small person-- a baby learning (among other things) to walk and speak, in the loving setting of parents who rejoice in every little milestone of baby's life. The Jewish representation in MAZAL BUENO is implicit rather than explicit, with an aptly brief note on the back cover of the book explaining context. The warm brown skin tones and curly h

Review: Yummy Hamantaschen

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Yummy Hamantaschen Text by Harold Grinspoon Foundation, illustrated by Elena Resko PJ Publishing, 2023 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz This is a very brief interactive board book that will familiarize babies and toddlers with the Purim treat, hamantaschen. The text addresses the audience directly, inviting them to pat, scoop, and fold to form the traditional three-cornered pastry. Die cut pages and fold-lines bring realism to the hamantaschen. This is the sort of book that will seem like a magic trick to very young children. The illustrations feature plump, inviting hamantaschen on boldly colored pages. A sprinkle of white makes the dough look floury. The black filling has a raised texture to evoke poppyseeds. The hamantaschen really do look yummy! A white child's hand is pictured on the cover but no other human elements appear in the imagery. Purim is never mentioned in the text, but a note for adults on the back cover explains the history of the holiday and the

Review: Start the Day

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Start the Day by Vicki L. Weber, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez Apples & Honey (imprint of Behrman House), 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Jeff Gottesfeld Buy at Bookshop.org The very best time for kids to learn nearly anything is when they are young. This is especially true when it comes to learning a second language. Vicki L. Weber's START THE DAY, with inviting illustrations by Shirley Ng-Benitez, puts this principle to work with the Hebrew phrase for "Good morning," *boker tov.* Her board book for the youngest children is part of a series from Apples & Honey Press that includes the havdalah-centered A NEW WEEK, SHABBAT SHALOM, and more. Weber's rhyming text is simple enough for any toddler to grasp -- "good morning all, it's time to rise / and rub the sleep from rested eyes" -- and uncommonly active. Each page will give the young person being read to the opportunity to do something. They can touch their noses, or wiggle their toes.

Review: My Hands Make the World

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My Hands Make the World written and illustrated by Amalia Hoffman PJ Publishing, 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Dena Bach There are many, many books that depict the creation story that begins the Torah, the first chapter of Bereshit, the Book of Genesis. Yet the approach of this board book is a novel one. Board books often use simple drawings to explain simple concepts, yet this book aims to do more. The deceptively simple narrative and artwork here tell more than just the story of Genesis, they tell about creation and about creating, reaching children at their level, in a child-friendly and inspiring way. As Hoffman explains in the endnotes, everyone, including children, are created “B’tzelem Elokim” in the divine image. Therefore everyone, including children, are participants in the act of creation. The medium of colorful finger painting, a common way that a young child begins to delve into art and storytelling, is an excellent choice. On every page a child’s handprint is an

Review: My First Book of Famous Jews

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My First Book of Famous Jews by Julie Merberg, illustrated by Julie Wilson  Downtown Bookworks, 2022 Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Ronna Mandel Buy at Bookshop.org “Can we talk?” If little ones don’t recognize this signature question from the late comedian Joan Rivers, perhaps parents or grandparents reading the book to them will. Rivers is just one of the more than three dozen famous Jews presented in this board book that I wish I’d written! Told in rhyme, My First Book of Famous Jews is a fabulous introduction to the talented individuals who have made lasting and significant contributions to science, literature, music, film, politics and the judiciary—even activism, an important inclusion. It’s never too soon to start sharing the broad impact Jewish people have made in every field. This book sings the praises of everyone from Anne Frank to Helen Frankenthaler, from Steven Spielberg to Gloria Steinem in their respective categories. The vibrant art throughout this book brings memb

Review: You're My Little Latke

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You're My Little Latke Written and illustrated by Natalie Marshall Silver Dolphin Books (imprint of Printers Row) Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Mirele Kessous   Buy at Bookshop.org You’re My Little Latke is a Chanukah board book appropriate for children ages 0-3. Each page has a pair of Chanukah-related objects (menorahs, dreidels, latkes, etc.) depicted as parent and child. The narrator of the story, presumably the parent, is professing his/her love for their kinderlach . Endearing, bright pictures of baby menorahs and baby latkes are a crowd-pleaser, and toddlers who know something about the holiday will be excited to see their favorite parts of the holiday come alive. Although the text is age-appropriate, it is pretty generic and lacks the creativity present in the illustrations. In this reviewer's opinion, the author missed the opportunity to incorporate Hebrew words (for example, jelly donut is used instead of sufganiya). Nevertheless, if you are looking for a cute gi

Review: Baby Loves Angular Momentum on Hanukkah!

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Baby Loves Angular Momentum on Hanukkah! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan Charlesbridge Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Sarah Aronson   Buy at Bookshop.org   As a brand new bubbe, I am always on the hunt for great board books that are fun to read and capture the kids' imagination, and no one is better at creating these books than the team of Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan.    Angular Momentum is many things: It’s an introduction to the meaning of Hanukkah. It’s an introduction to the game of dreidel. AND it’s a discussion about physics, gravity, and angular momentum. Spoiler: I learned something!   Spiro’s prose are simple, fun, and respectful—and scientifically accurate. No misinformation here! Chan’s illustrations bring the text to life. They are delightful—colorful and engaging--perfect for young eyes.    A special surprise: at the end of the book, Spiro includes a nod to diversity and inclusion (and other titles): not all Baby’s friends celebrate Hanukkah . . . bu

Review: My Hanukkah Book of Opposites

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My Hanukkah Book of Opposites by Tammar Stein, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo PJ Publishing Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz Buy on Amazon.com The cover of this board book, with its juxtaposition of warm and cool colors in a symmetrical design, immediately presents a feeling of balance. It also offers a conversation starter: adults can ask children to look for opposites such as tall/short and lit/unlit candles, as well as birds facing to the right or left, priming them for the theme before even opening the book. Within, six pairs of opposites manage to create a narrative, tying together the arrival of guests through the celebration of Hanukkah up until bedtime. The text makes sense chronologically: the people are cold until they go indoors and then they are warm; a platter of latkes is full until they are eaten up and then the platter is empty. Stylish, rounded illustrations depict a diverse gathering of family and friends with a variety of skin tones. Men and boys we

Review: Happy Birthday, Trees!

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Review: Happy Birthday, Trees! by Karen Rostoker-Gruber Category: Board Books Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili   Buy at Bookshop.org In the latest board book offering from Kar-Ben, Happy Birthday, Trees! celebrates the holiday of Tu B’Shevat with a group of three children who go through all the various steps involved in planting a tree. Author Rostoker-Gruber starts the story right at the beginning of the process with grabbing a shovel and digging a hole. Each double-page spread includes a rhyming couplet followed by a repetition of the first line, which will make the book easy to follow along for children. The verses are playful and humorous, such as “Then, we’ll spray the garden hose, / and wet the tree (and soak our clothes). / On Tu B’Shevat we’ll spray the hose!” After the tree grows through the different seasons, the children get to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to it and circle it in dance. With spring’s arrival, the book ends satisfyingly with the children seeing their tree

Review: The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 8 Nights of Chanukah

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 8 Nights of Chanukah by Eric Carle LLC Category: Board Books Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz Buy at Bookshop.org The original Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969) is a beloved classic of secular children's literature. In recent years, the caterpillar has become something of a franchise, available as a toy, on party supplies, and in a plethora of spin-off books. Now, at long last, we get the intersection of the famed caterpillar with Jewish culture in The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 8 Nights of Chanukah . Eric Carle's signature style of painted paper collage has been employed on eight spreads, one for each night of Chanukah. On the left side of each spread, we see a menorah correctly depicted with the shamash elevated above the other candles, and with candles being added each night from right to left. On the right side, bright illustrations on a clean white background depict typical holiday activities such as eating latkes and sufganiyot,

Review: Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom

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Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom by Sarah Aroeste, illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Bridget Hodder BUEN SHABAT, SHABBAT SHALOM is a board book. The text comprises one playful, free-rhyming couplet for each double page, setting the calm and happy scene of a loving Sephardic family celebrating Shabbat. But...how important can a board book be? Quite important, as it turns out. Since the authentic Jewish culture and Ladino language of the Sephardim are in danger of disappearing from the world, and are particularly invisible in the United States, it's important to raise awareness. It's also important to start educating our children about Sephardic culture very early. In literary terms, you can't get an earlier start than within the chunky cardboard pages of a board book. The Sephardic author, Sarah Aroeste, is also a singer-songwriter, making her a wonderful voice to "chant" the simple, sacred pleasures of her culture's

Review: Havdalah is Coming!

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Havdalah Is Coming by Tracy Newman, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli Category: Picture Books (Board Book) Reviewer: Mirele Kessous Tracy Newman has a formula for her board books, and it works. Following on the success of Shabbat is Coming! she now has Havdalah is Coming! . Simple 2-line rhymes grace each page and conclude with the phrase “Havdalah is coming.” This is nothing exceptionally creative, but it works for little kids, who will memorize it quickly enough. The language is appropriate for the baby through age 4 audience. The illustrations by Viviana Garofoli are bright and engaging. She does include one token person of color in the end—kudos. If you want to play it safe, pick this up for your little tyke. It won’t rock the boat. Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here! Reviewer Mirele says: I am a certified librarian with a specialty in children's and young adult library services. This is my 7th year working at The Ch

Review: Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home

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Shalmon Bayit: A Peaceful Home by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska Category: Picture Books (Board Book) Reviewer: Mirele Kessous This board book introduces the term "shalom bayit" by comparing the different places in which animals make their homes. It's a charming approach to teaching the concept and sure to appeal to toddlers and early preschoolers. With short and simple rhymes and age-appropriate language, this board book makes for a solid read-aloud. For some reason, a couple of the rhymes fall flat (i.e."leaves/ease") which is a tad awkward if you are trying to use the book to teach children how to rhyme. The adorable illustrations have just the right amount of detail for young eyes to want to take a closer look. The father and son depicted are not wearing kippot, and mom is wearing jeans, so the book may not appeal to Orthodox readers. For everyone else, though, it’s a worthwhile purchase. Are you interested in reviewing books f