Book Review | Around the Shabbos Table
by Seryl Berman

Score: 4

At last, an Orthodox publisher gives us a beautifully illustrated picture book accompanying a great story with a wonderful message: “To a good hearted person, life’s a constant celebration.” (Mishlei 15:15) A traditional family celebrates Shabbat. As they begin to settle down for their meal, one person after the other has a complaint about their seat. Everyone but Tova Leiba, who happily exchanges her seat with whoever is the latest unhappy soul, finding satisfaction in whatever place she is provided. Young children are going to identify with the many faces in this beautifully illustrated story.

As I read this book, I kept thinking to myself, what incredibly beautiful artwork this is, especially for an Orthodox press. Each page was better than the next. And then the story. The story is just delightful as Tova Leiba just makes every moment a happy one no matter what is being thrown at her from her family. She is just the cutest, happiest little shana punim on a page.

Imagine my surprise when I returned to the credits and saw that the illustrator was none other than Ari Binus, who illustrated Izzy Hagbah and Hayyim’s Ghost. I liked both of those books as well, but Ari (Full Disclosure here: Ari used to work for me when I was the Book Club Editor at BabagaNewz Magazine) has matured into quite an impressive illustrator. I hope we see more of him. Seryl Berman, the author, appears to be new on the writing scene, but I hope we see more of her as well. Her use of language is simple, yet engaging and fun.

I highly recommend it for all Jewish libraries.

Grade Range: 1st-4th grades

This book is for YOUNGER Readers.

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