Showing posts with the label Susan Kusel

Review: Happy 'Roo Year: It's Rosh Hashanah

Happy 'Roo Year: It's Rosh Hashanah by Jessica Hickman, illustrated by Elissambura Kar-Ben (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Susan Kusel Buy at A family of Australian kangaroos celebrates Rosh Hashanah in this board book, with rhyming text that is appropriate for very young listeners. Children who are familiar with the holiday will recognize the shofar, apples and honey, round challah, and more. While most of the holiday foods mentioned are Ashkenazi (brisket, fish, honey cake), the addition of dates to the menu adds a Sephardic touch. The kangaroos are brown, purple, and pink, which can be seen as symbolizing a mixed-race family. Some (including pink 'roos) wear kippot but are not explicitly identified by gender. The brown, kippah-wearing Dad prepares dinner, in a nice disruption of gender expectations. An inclusive atmosphere is displayed in the synagogue, where "Koalas, wombats, wallabies--here everyone belongs."

Review: The Passover Guest

The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin Holiday House Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Bridget Hodder Buy at This delightful picture book re-imagines the magical tale of the Passover Guest in the historical setting of 1930's Washington, DC. The book's delicately fantastical illustrations slip the tether on readers' imaginations and help them absorb aspects of both the history of Passover and the history of the US during the Great Depression. The result is a deeply engaging folk tale grounded in a reality that could be bleak, were it not for the enduring ties of faith and love. The love manifests in many ways, including love of family, love of community, and the open-handed love given by an impoverished Jewish family to a Passover stranger whom they welcome to their scanty holy day table. This book comes to us at a particularly relevant moment. Children all over the US and the world have recently witnessed a mob, including antisemites, dese

How Are You, Readers?

Our next few reviews will feature Purim and Passover stories, just a little out of season. This topsy turvy posting seems fitting in our current pandemic situation, where things feel so mixed up. It made us think that this was a good time to check in and see how everyone is doing. How are you, readers? If you like, let us know in the comments. We hope that you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe. We want to acknowledge the amazing job being done by our Shmooze reviewers, who are persevering despite the chaos. We hope that our continuing stream of book reviews brings a little normalcy to you, and helps showcase great titles that aren't getting their normal exposure in bookstores and libraries. Above you can see Shmooze editor Susan Kusel in a Highlights Foundation Zoom meeting held on April 27, 2020 for members of the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group. Panelists Susan Kusel, Linda Epstein, Becca Podos, Erica Perl, Ruth Horowitz, and Veera Hiranandani discussed

Introducing: Susan Kusel

It's time once again to meet your Sydney Taylor Shmooze admins! Three friends run this blog: Susan Kusel (whose brainchild it was) and her partners in crime, Chava Pinchuck and Heidi Rabinowitz. You can read a bit about us in the About section but we thought you might like to get to know each of us a little better. In this final installment, it's Susan's turn. Susan Kusel visiting the Yiddish Book Center 1. Describe a day in your professional life.  Library at Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church,VA I love being a solo synagogue librarian because so many different things could happen in one day. I answer reference questions on every topic from board books to Talmuds, and have patrons every age from 2 to 92. I work with our volunteers, religious school, nursery school, clergy, adult education and temple book clubs. I select new books, buy, process and catalog them. I sort through boxes of donations and see what can be added to the library. I do story times. Oh,