Archive for March, 2011

Book Review | Afikomen Mambo
by Rabbi Joe Black

Score: 3.5

Illustrated by Linda Prater Score: 3.5 © 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing. Once again, Rabbi Joe Black allows one of his songs to come alive in the pages of a book (Boker Tov! Good Morning!) Just in time for Passover, our children will be dancing to a Latin rhythm as they get ready for the Seder and [...]

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Book Review | The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah
by Leslie Kimmelman

Score: 4.0

Illustrated by Paul Meisel Score: 4.0 © 2010, Holiday House, Inc. This charming retelling of the classic Little Red Hen story, has Ms. Hen trying to prepare for her Passover Seder. First, she needs to make her matzah. Seeking help from her barnyard friends for the planting, harvesting, milling and baking of the matzah gets [...]

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Let’s Continue Reading for the Joy of It – Simcha/Joy

As Purim approaches (beginning the evening of March 19), and the costumes, hamantaschen and Purim Shpiel (play) rehearsals all come together, our anticipation and happiness seem to reach overwhelming proportions. That is why I chose Simcha/Joy as this month’s value.

I often feel that way when I am reading a really good book. With each chapter, I just can’t wait to read the next, to learn more about the characters, to see what they are going to do in the following pages. Sometimes I am up until the “wee” hours of the morning, because I just can’t put the book down. When I am finished, I feel so happy… until of course the next morning when I have to wake up and go to work. Nevertheless, I have a great story to talk about and share with my readers or students. Nothing could be better…until the next wonderful book falls into my hands.

My choices for this month’s books for older readers are the ones I could not put down. They made me laugh, made me cry or knocked me off my feet, but in the end, they kept me awake until the final page turn filled me with joy. I hope they do the same for you:

All-of-a-Kind Family. By Sydney Taylor. Illustrated by Helen John. © 1951, Yearling. The classic story of a family with five girls living in the Lower East side of New York in the early 1900′s. Their celebration of life in the face of sometimes bleak living conditions is a wonderful look at “seeing the glass half full.” Based on the author’s life.  Ages 9-12 years.

The Importance of Wings. By Robin Friedman. © 2009, Charlesbridge.Publishing. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers. With appealing and affecting writing, this novel grabs the reader immediately and takes you on a journey of self-discovery, confidence building and empowerment as Roxanne, with a small amount of help from her next-door neighbor Liat,  discovers she has what it takes to be her own person. Ages 10-14 years.

A Pickpocket’s Tale. By Karen Schwabach. © 2006,  Random House Books fro Young Readers.. In 1730, Molly Abraham is living in the streets of London following here mother’s death from smallpox. She supports herself by pickpocketing. Having been caught and tried in a court of law, she finds herself on a ship headed to America as an indentured servant. The ship arrives in New York, where she is ransomed by a Jewish family. In their household she learns how to be a good servant and a practicing Jew. Ages 11-15 years.

Confessions of a Closet Catholic. By Sarah Darer Littman. © 2005, Dutton. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers. Justine Silver has decided that for Lent she will give up being Jewish. This is just the beginning of her struggles with being the middle child, boys, chocolate and of course, religion. Ages 11-15 years.

Strange Relations. By Sonia Levitin. © 2007,   Knopf Books for Young Readers. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teen Readers.  Marne simply wants a nice summer on the beaches in Hawaii visiting her aunt and cousins while her parents are travelling on business. What she gets instead is the discovery that her aunt and uncle run the Chabad House on the mainland of Hawaii, and she is expected to pitch in. Her experiences provide her with some new insights into her religious identity. Ages 14-18 years.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life. By Dana Reinhardt. © 2006, Wendy Lamb Books. Simone knows she is adopted and wants nothing to do with her birth mother. At her adoptive parents’ insistance, however, she agrees to meet her birth mother one time. What she discovers is both enlightening and tragic. Ages 14 – 18 years.

I certainly hope you do not stay up until the “wee” hours reading these titles, after all, a good night’s rest is most Important. If you do, however, email me at I will be happy to send a note to your teacher/boss explaining why the book kept you up so late that you overslept and were late for school/work. Beware: You will first have to answer a question or two to prove to me that you read the book.

Have a delicious Purim!

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were from my own collection and my local public library.
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Book Review | The Queen Who Saved Her People
by Tilda Balsley

Score: 3.5

Illustrated by Ilene Richard © 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing The author who brought us the delightful, “Let My People Go!” has written a new Readers Theater style book based on the Purim story. For the very young, this is a perfect read-aloud version of the Book of Esther, told in rhyme with simple language and fun, [...]

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Book Review | The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 2.5

Illustrated by Jill Weber © 2011, Holiday House Writing a children’s version of the Book of Esther is no easy task, filled as the biblical story is with lewd, violent, secretive and ill-mannered behavior that is difficult enough for adults to interpret. Why were there “No restrictions” on the drinking during King Ahashuerus’ seven day [...]

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