Archive for August, 2011

“The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far”: Honoring One’s Parents/Kibud Av v’Em

As we explore Jewish values together this year, I will be using the Eilu d’varim prayer, “These are the obligations without measure…,” that is traditionally recited each morning as the basis for our study. That prayer contains a list of the ten most important actions a Jew can perform during her or his lifetime.  First on the list is Kibbud Av va-Em/Honoring One’s Parents.

While searching for books that would be helpful, I came across a wonderful poem that fit the bill perfectly.

Seeds

You drew pictures of life

with your words.

I listened and ate these words you said

to grow up strong.

Like the trees, I grew,

branches, leaves, flowers, and then the fruit.

I became the words I ate in you.

For better or worse

the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Javaka Steptoe, In My Daddy’s Arms I AM TALL: African Americans Celebrating Fathers. Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. ©1997. Lee & Low Books Inc.

With those words in mind, the following is a list of books for all ages to read and enjoy. To get the most out of reading these books, “For Values’ Sake,” go to  the Family Reading Program Section of my website and find the September/Elul/Tishrei list of discussion questions and activities.  Use these when reading together with children to reinforce your understanding of Honoring One’s Parents/Kibud Av va-Em .

Old Bear and His Cub. Written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea. Philomel Books, © 2010. Ages 3-5. Old Bear and Little Bear love each other very, very much. Even though Little Bear doesn’t always want to listen to Old Bear, a gentle stare sets him in the right direction. When Old Bear doesn’t want to listen to Little Bear, he learns that his lessons have paid off in a very important way.

A Chair for My Mother. Written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams. Greenwillow Books, © 1982. Ages 4-6.   A young girl, her mother and grandmother, lose everything when their apartment burns down. Despite the generosity of their neighbors who provide furniture and toys for their new apartment, what the girl longs for is a comfortable chair for her mother to sit in when she comes home from work.


The Emperor and the Kite. By Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Ed Young. Philomel Books, © 1988. Ages 5-8. Largely ignored, Princess Djeow Seow finds her inconspicuous nature and talent for kite flying to be of tremendous value to her father when he is kidnapped and shut away in a prison.

Winter Shoes for Shadow Horse. By Linda Oatman High. Illustrated by Ted Lewin. Boyds Mill Press, © 2001. Ages 5-8. A boy watches his father as he shoes a horse in their blacksmith shop. When his father tells him it is his turn to put the last two shoes on the horse’s hooves, he cannot believe it.  Slowly and carefully, he does the job, just as his father had taught him.


Brave Irene. Written and illustrated by William Steig. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, © 1986. Ages 6-9. When Irene’s mother falls sick and cannot take the ballgown she has made to the duchess, Irene takes it for her. In spite of a blizzard, she manages to get the dress where it belongs.

Papa’s Mark. By Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Holiday House Books, © 2003. Ages 6-9. Election Day is coming and Simms wants to be sure his Papa can write his own name on the ballot.


In Our Mothers’ House. Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books, © 2009.  Ages 7-10. A special family with two moms shows a neighborhood that all families are the same when the house is filled with love.

The Janitor’s Boy. By Andrew Clements. Aladdin Paperbacks, © 2000. Ages 9-12. Jack Rankin leaves a huge wad of watermelon bubblegum under a desk to make the school janitor work hard for making him so angry.Unfortunately, the trick backfires and Jack gets caught. Now he has to work for the school janitor cleaning gum from under desks, and the school janitor is his dad!


Up a Creek. By Laura E. Williams. Henry Holt and Company, © 2001. Ages 11-14. Starshine Bott has had just about enough of her mother, Miracle’s, causes. This time she is living in an oak tree to protect it from being cut down. What is a daughter to do with such an embarassing mom?

Just Ask Iris. By Lucy Frank. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, © 200.  Ages 11-14.  Iris’ mother has left her father and moved to a new apartment building. It’s summertime and her mother wants Iris to stay inside and use an ancient program to learn to type.  Iris tries, but decides to help out some of the neighbors instead.


Child of the Owl. By Laurence Yep. HarperCollins, © 1977. Ages 13-16. When Casey’s dad winds up in the hospital, she is sent to live with her Chinese grandmother in San Francisco. There she learns more about life, love and family then she ever expected.

Level Up. By Gene Luen Yang. Illustrated by Thien Pham. First Second, © 2011. Ages 13-18.  In this extraordinary graphic novel, the son of immigrants is made to live up to his parents’ expectations that he become a doctor. When he rebels, his life takes some interesting turns.

I was honored to be given a grant by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies to write a monthly column about the Speak Volumes program for the CJP’s Family Connections Newsletter. You can sign up to receive this monthly newsletter, a great source of information for parents of young children, at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ website..

As you read and process these books, if you need any additional information, have questions or comments about the Speak Volumes program or are looking for a book for a specific need, please contact me at kathyb-at-forwordsbooks-dot-com.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection or my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

Talia and the Rude Vegetables

illustrated by Francesca Assirelli

© 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing.

Talia’s grandmother is making her family a stew to welcome in the New Year. She has asked Talia to go to the garden and “bring back seven root vegetables.” But Talia hears “rude” instead of “root” and wonders, how she will know if a vegetable has been rude?

As Talia digs up the vegetables – onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas (is your mouth watering yet?) – she remembers times when her behavior has perhaps not been at its best and knows this is the time of year she needs to make some apologies to her family members. When Talia unearths a an “onery onion,” she puts that one in the pot, sending the perfectly round onion to the basket. She does the same for the “garish garlic,” “crooked carrot,” “terrible turnip,” well, you get the message. All the “rude” vegetables go to the pot for her family’s stew. The nice, perfect vegetables go in the basket, which Talia delivers to the rabbi to give to a family who may need it.

Talia’s mistake turns out fine in the end, for a vegetable is a vegetable after all. “Very sweet like you,” says her grandmother, because Talia had done a mitzvah by giving the extra basket of vegetables to the rabbi.

This is a charming book for younger children to convey the message of apologizing for our behavior (Teshuvah) at this solemn time of year. It also speaks about Tzedakah in a fun and interesting way.

The illustrations are soft, warm and lovely, while perfectly conveying the efforts Talia must exert to find the vegetables. There is a recipe for “Rude” Vegetable Stew in the back of the book that sounds delicious and may be a featured item on my family table this year

Grade Level: Pre-K – 2nd

Ages: 3-8

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

A time for silence and a time for speaking

I have spent the past several months preparing for this upcoming New Year – 5772. I have been

  • Thinking about the new idea I began last year, Speak Volumes: A Jewish Values Based Family Reading Program, and how I want to enrich it this year.
  • Reading a ton of books, Jewish and secular.
  • Celebrating my son’s graduation from college and my mother’s 80th birthday.
  • Meeting and learning from many wonderful authors.
  • Working on writing my own book.
  • Working at several part time jobs that are creative and fun.

The outcome of all of this and more is many stories, thoughts and books to share. I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks and months.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection, my local public library or the publisher as review copies.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

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