Featured Reviews

Book Review | Gershon’s Monster
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 5

Illustrated by John J. Muth © 2000, Scholastic, Inc. For the most part, we try to be on our best behavior throughout the year. We remember to say please and thank you. We speak kindly of and to others. We tell the truth. Of course, everyone makes an occasional mistake, and when we do we [...]

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Book Review | Sukkot Treasure Hunt
by Allison Ofanansky

Score: 3

Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern © 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing. How much fun would it be to take the children on a hike and look for and pick the willow, myrtle and palm branch for your very own lulav? What would it be like to pick bay leaves for your soup pot, grapes or dates for your [...]

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Book Review | Greater than Gold and Silver
by Rav Naftali Ehrmann

Score: 3

Adapted and Illustrated by Chedvah Rubin © 2009, Feldheim Publishers This beautiful story reveals, the true meaning, and consequences, of performing a mitvah with real intention or kavanah.  Reb Itzik is a poor peddler who loves Sukkot and above all observing the mitvah of having a perfect etrog during the holiday. When one year he [...]

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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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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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Book Review | The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt

Score: 4.5

Illustrated by David Small © 2008, Atheneum Books for Young Readers. This is not a Jewish book, however it is such a powerful work of fiction filled with story, message and excellent writing that I just have to recommend it. Heroes and villains, humans and animals, fact and fantasy, life and death, past and present [...]

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Book Review | Tashlich at Turtle Rock
by Susan Schnur & Anna Schnur-Fishman

Score: 3

Illustrated by Alex Steele-Morgan © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing Families looking for a way to bring interesting Jewish ritual into their lives need look no further than this charming book. Annie and her family go on a hike as part of their Rosh Hashanah afternoon. During their hike, they make four stops. One to remember something [...]

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Book Review | A Tale of Two Seders
by Mindy Avra Portnoy

Score: 3.5

Illustrated by Valeria Cis © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. When parents get divorced and children are involved, there are always issues, not the least of which is where the children will spend the holidays. In this gentle and reassuring book, there are no arguments, no tugging or pulling. The details seem to have been worked out [...]

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Book Review | Tower of Babel
by A.S. Gadot

Score: 3

Illustrated by Cecilia Rebora © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. A cute and clever retelling of the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. The people of Shinar all speak the same language and get along fine, until they get bored doing the same thing day in and day out. When a child suggests they build a [...]

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Book Review | An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank
by Elaine Marie Alphin

Score: 4

© 2010, Carolrhoda Books. While reading this riveting account of the murder of Mary Phagan, a poor, white, 13-year-old factory worker from Atlanta, Georgia, and the trial of her accused murderer, Leo Frank, a 29-year-old, Jewish man from New York,  I often had to stop and remember that this event actually took place on American [...]

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Book Review | The Year of Goodbyes
by Debbie Levy

Score: 3

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Book Review | Zishe the Strongman
by Robert Rubinstein

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing From the time he was 3 years old, Siegmund Breitbart, known as Zishe, was strong enough to lift his Orthodox Jewish blacksmith father’s nine-pound hammers. As he grew, so did his strength, until everyone in the Polish town where he grew up, knew of his skill and strength. Soon all of [...]

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Book Review | Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp
by Trish Marx

Score: 4

Photographs by Cindy Karp © 2010, Lee and LowBooks. I will admit, when I received this book from the publisher, I was skeptical. This was coming from a secular publishing house, known for its multicultural books. While they had published some excellent Jewish books, were they going to take a “side” with this one? Having [...]

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Book Review | Say Hello, Lily
by Deborah Lakritz

Score: 3

Illustrated by Martha Av © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. In this charming story, a young girl visits a senior citizens’ home with her mother. Her first visit is a bit scary as, with the exception of a former neighbor, she is unfamiliar with the place and its residents. Over time, however, she adapts to the people [...]

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Book Review | Queen of Secrets
by Jenny Meyerhoff

Score: 3

© 2010, Farrar Straus Giroux. In the game of High School popularity politics whose side do you take – friends or family? For Essie, the charming protaganist of this interesting story loosely based on the Book of Esther, the answer to that question can shake up a lot of relationships. Essie, an orphan raised by [...]

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Book Review | Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear
by Tomi Ungerer

Score: 3

illustrated by Tomi Ungerer © 2010, Phaidon Press Limited. Otto is a teddy bear that begins his life as a special birthday gift for David, a young German Jewish boy, becomes a trusted friend of the boy and his best friend, Oskar and a willing participant in their childhood pranks. When Hitler takes over Germany, [...]

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Book Review | Mrs. Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium
by Rona Arato

Score: 2.5

© 2010, Tundra Books. The Kapustin family cannot understand what has happened to their father. He left for American and has not written for 5 years. Where could he be? With the help of a dragon, a pirate, a circus barker, matzo balls as hard as rocks and some real American resourcefulness, not only do [...]

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Book Review | Noah’s Bark
by Stephen Krensky

Score: 2

Illustrated by Rogé © 2010, Carolrhoda Books. During the time Noah was building the ark, the animals could use any sound they liked whenever they liked. “Snakes quacked…Beavers crowed…elephants hissed.” At other times, the elephants would quack, the beavers hiss and the snakes would baah. This was a bit distracting to Noah as he tried [...]

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Book Review | Feivel’s Flying Horses
by Heidi Smith Hyde

Score: 4

Illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. The author who brought us the delights of Klezmer music in Mendel’s Accordion, now shares a lesser known path from the Jewish immigrant experience, the wooden carousel horse carvers of the 19th century. This beautifully told tale describes the life of Feivel who leaves his [...]

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Book Review | Resistance Book 1
by Carla Jablonski

Score: 3

Art by Leland Purvis Color by Hilary Sycamore © 2010, :01/ First Second. In this exciting and emotionally powerful graphic novel set in France during World War II, three young people get involved in the French Resistance. Paul and his sister, Marie, must shepherd their Jewish friend, Henri, to a safe house in Paris to [...]

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Book Review | Extraordinary
by Nancy Werlin

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Dial. Imagine that in the 18th century Mayer Rothschild, founder of the famous Jewish banking family, found himself lost in the forest and stumbled upon a portal into the Fairie Kingdom. Fascinated by the Fairie society and enamored by their culture, he fell in love with and had an affair with the Fairie [...]

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Book Review | Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express
by Deborah Bodin Cohen

Score: 3

Illustrated by Shahar Kober © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. In this companion volume to Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride (2008), Engineer Ari laments the fact that friends he has made on his train rides between Jaffa and Jerusalem cannot join him in his sukkah at home. His clever friends in Jaffa, however, want Ari [...]

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Book Review | Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
by Linda Glaser

Score: 4

by Linda Glaser Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola © 2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ~ from The New Colossus [...]

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Book Review | Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer

Score: 2

© 2010, Delacorte Press. In this novel, based on actual experiences of the author’s father and aunt during the War, young Gustave and his family, who are Jewish, flee the Nazi occupation of Paris and find themselves in a small village right on the border of Occupied and Unoccupied France. In order to obtain food [...]

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Book Review | Benno and the Night of Broken Glass
by Meg Wiviott

Score: 3

Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing. Using picture books to explain the Holocaust to children is rarely a good idea. However, this may be a rare exception. We watch a German neighborhood going about its business in the days leading up to Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) through the eyes of a [...]

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Book Review | Annexed
by Sharon Dogar

Score: 4.5

© 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Let me state from the beginning that I believe it took an enormous amount of courage, and an iron backbone, for Sharon Dogar to write this book. If there was ever such a thing as canonization in Judaism, I am sure Anne Frank would be in the top ten list [...]

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Book Review | The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz
by Laura Toffler-Corrie

Score: 3.0

© 2010, Roaring Brook Press. In an effort to distract Amy from her sadness over losing her best friend to a move to the heartland (Kansas), a caring teacher creates a class assignment involving the diaries of 19th century immigrants. Not only does Amy immerse herself in the project, but she enlists a kind, elderly [...]

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Book Review | The Things a Brother Knows
by Dana Reinhardt

Score: 4.5

© 2010, Wendy Lamb Books, a division of Random House Children’s Books. Boaz Katznelson, the eldest son of a transplanted Israeli family, has everything going for him as he graduates from High School. At the top of his class and accepted to Ivy League schools across the east coast, he can choose just about any [...]

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Book Review | Gathering Sparks
by Howard Schwartz

Score: 4

Illustrated by Kristina Swarner © 2010, Roaring Book Press. With beautiful, simple language, this master storyteller provides an excellent way to explain the concept of Tikkun Olam/ Repairing the World to very young children. Transforming the “Vessels of Light” so often used in stories, into a “fleet of ships, each carrying a cargo of light,” [...]

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Book Review | As You Go on Your Way: Shacharit the Morning Prayer
by Debbie Friedman

Score: 5

As a tribute to Debbie Friedman (z’l), I wanted to post her last CD on my website in a position of honor. This is an extraordinary compilation of Debbie’s music and a wonderful way to begin your day. It contains some of her classic liturgical material along with some new material.  The notes that accompany [...]

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Book Review | The Rooster Prince of Breslov
by Ann Redisch Stampler

Score: 5

Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin © 2010, Clarion Books. The author who gave us Schlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost and Something for Nothing, both excellent retellings of Jewish folktales, has really outdone herself this time. Taking an 18th century, classic story from Reb Nachman of Breslov and putting a contemporary twist to it that [...]

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Book Review | Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
by Barry Deutsch

Score: 5

© 2010, Amulet Books. I will admit that every Jewish graphic novel I review has to pass my Maus test. I know, that is probably unfair, since Maus is an adult book, and it won a Pulitzer Prize. However, Art Spiegelman set a standard many years ago, and my belief has always been that Jewish [...]

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Book Review | Life, After
by Sarah Darer Littman

Score: 5

© 2010, Scholastic Press. Sarah Littman is the author of Confessions of a Closet Catholic, winner of the 2006 Sydney Taylor Award. In this, her latest novel, she takes us to Argentina to meet Dani Bensimon and her family. The Bensimons are troubled: by the loss of Dani’s aunt (her father’s sister) in the terrorist [...]

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Book Review | Celebrate Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
by Deborah Heiligman

Score: 3

© 2007, National Geographic Books. Part of the National Geographic Holidays Around the World Series, this is an excellent introduction to the High Holidays for young children and their families. Pages filled with colorful pictures of Jews around the world celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur accompany simple explanatory text describing these holidays. At the [...]

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Book Review | The Secret Shofar of Barcelona
by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

Score: 4

Illustrated by Doug Chayka. © 2009, KarBen Publishing. The author looks to a Sephardic legend for this well-written story about a Spanish converso (secret Jew) who cleverly enables his secret community of Jews to hear the sound of the shofar at Rosh Hashanah. Set in Barcelona, during the Spanish Inquisition, Ms. Greene creates a story [...]

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Book Review | Busing Brewster
by Richard Michelson

Score: 3.5

illustrated by R.G. Roth © 2010,  Alfred A. Knopf. Teach Them to Your Children.  Richard Michelson has written another excellent piece of historical fiction, this time about the “forced busing” of black students into white schools during the 1970s. Using a minimum of words and supported by the 70s-style ink and watercolor collages of R.G. [...]

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Book Review | mockingbird (mok’ing-bûrd)
by Kathryn Erskine

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA. Caitlin is in Fifth Grade when her older brother, Devon, is shot and killed during a school shooting.  Caitlin has Asperger’s Syndrome, and Devon was the one person in the world who could help her navigate life’s difficulties and do things “the right way.” Everyone [...]

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Book Review | Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork

Score: 4

© 2009, Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. Marcelo Sandoval is 18-years-old and making plans for the summer between his junior and senior year at Paterson High School, a special preparatory school for children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Looking forward to working as the stable man at Paterson, in charge of [...]

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Book Review | Dan and the Mudman
by Jonny Zucker

Score: 3

by Jonny Zucker © 2009, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books Dan Bernstein’s family moves to a small town far outside of London, and he faces a number of lifestyle changes. None, however, challenges him as much as the blatant anti-Semitism of the class bully, Steve, or so he thinks. When his class project on long-distance running, [...]

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Book Review | Sparrow Girl
by Sara Pennypacker

Score: 4

Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka © 2009, Disney-Hyperion Books. In 1958, Mao Tse-Tung declared a war on four pests – rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows.  SPARROWS? Why, sparrows? Because sparrows ate grain and the population of China was starving. Sparrows were declared enemies of the people and a massive campaign was waged to eliminate them from [...]

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Book Review | This Tree Counts
by Alison Formento

Score: 3.5

Illustrated by Sarah Snow © 2010, Albert Whitman & Company. One large oak tree stood at the back of Oak Lane School. Mr. Tate wants his class to plant some more oak trees, but before they do, he asks them to listen to the big tree’s story. As they stop and hug the tree, the [...]

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Book Review | First Rain
by Charlotte Herman

Score: 4

Illustrated by Kathryn Mitter © 2010, Albert Whitman & Company. Abby is sad because she and her family are leaving her grandmother in America and making aliyah (literally,going up) to Israel. However, from the start, Abby and her grandma stay in touch by letter, telephone and internet as Abby shares her feelings and describes everything [...]

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Book Review | Six Million PaperClips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial
by Peter W. Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand

Score: 3

© 2004, Kar-Ben Publishing. “What on earth is 6 million?” ask the kids, when Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee decided to begin teaching their students about the Holocaust. Six million is a number too big to comprehend, so the class decides to collect six million paper clips in order to see just how big [...]

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Book Review | Hana’s Suitcase
by Karen Levine

Score: 4

Illustrated with Black and White photographs © 2003, Albert Whitman & Company. “Really, it’s a very ordinary-looking suitcase. A little tattered around the edges, but in good condition. It’s brown. It’s big… In white paint, across the front, there is a girl’s name: Hana Brady. A date of birth: May 16, 1931. And one other [...]

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Book Review | The Entertainer and the Dybbuk
by Sid Fleischman

Score: 5

© 2003, Greenwillow Books. Winner of the 2003 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers.  What have we here? A ghost story? An account of demonic possession? Yet another Holocaust story? Actually, it’s a fantastically written, highly engaging, out-of-the-ordinary Holocaust tale that kids, especially boys, will love, by Newbery Award winning author Sid Fleischman (z’l). [...]

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Book Review | Holocaust: the events and their impact on real people
by Angela Gluck Wood

Score: 4.5

© 2007, DK Children. I read this book on a cross-country airplane trip. My first thought, of course, “Oy vey! Another Holocaust book, do we need another Holocaust book?” When I opened it up and began reading, I could not put it down. As trite as it may sound, this is a Holocaust collection like [...]

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Book Review | Here Come the Purim Players!
by Barbara Cohen

Score: 3.5

Illustrated by Shoshana Mekibel Text © 1984, Barbara Cohen. Illustrations © 1998 UAHC Press. All the Jews living in the Prague ghetto hear the announcement, “the Purim Players are coming!” A troupe of excellent entertainers has come to share a Purim Shpiel with the entire town. As they entertain with their interpretation of the Book [...]

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Book Review | It’s Purim Time!
by Latifa Berry Kropf

Score: 3

Photographs by Tod Cohen © 2005, KarBen Publishing, Inc. The little preschool shana punim return to celebrate Purim in their classroom.  They dress up in costume, have hamentashen for their snack and deliver shalach manot to the preschool staff. While listening to their teacher read the Megillah, they shake their hand-made groggers so loud the [...]

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Book Review | Mystery Bear: A Purim Story
by Leone Adelson

Score: 3

Illustrated by Naomi Howland © 2004, Clarion Books. A little bear cub wakes up from his winter’s nap and finds he is starving. Not wanting to wake up his mother, he leaves the den to search for food. At the edge of the forest he smells a tasty aroma and sees a crowd of people [...]

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Book Review | The Purim Surprise
by Lesley Simpson

Score: 2.5

Illustrated by Peter Church © 2004, KarBen Publishing, Inc. Naomi is sure that her mother has forgotten her seventh birthday. After all, they just moved into their new home, her birthday and Purim are three days away and instead of unpacking boxes, they have been baking Hamantashen and putting together Shalach Manot baskets for people [...]

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Book Review | The Legend of Freedom Hill
by Linda Jacobs Altman

Score: 3

Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu © 2000, Lee & Low Books. During the Gold Rush of the 1850′s, Rosabel and Sophie are best friends because they are both outsiders in a very small California town.  Rosabel is African American and Sophie is Jewish. Although Rosabel is free and has papers to prove it, [...]

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Book Review | Stealing Home.
by Ellen Schwartz

Score: 3.5

© 2006, Tundra Books. It is 1947, Joey Sexton’s white, Jewish mother has died and he finds out that his black father is also dead. The only family that will take him are his maternal grandfather and aunt who live together in Brooklyn. As Joey struggles to make friends with the other children in the [...]

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Book Review | Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim
by Deborah Bodin Cohen

Score: 4

Illustrated by Jago © 2009 Kar-Ben Publishing. A 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Book. This is a beautifully written midrash about the story of Nachshon, the individual who was the first to step into the waters of the Reed Sea thereby enabling the Jewish People to reach freedom on the other side. Nachshon is portrayed as [...]

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Book Review | Papa Jethro
by Deborah Bodin Cohen

Score: 4

Illustrated by Jane Dippold. © 2007 Kar-Ben Publishing This book brought tears to my eyes and gave me goose bumps. What a beautiful gift for an interfaith family- a bedtime story for the other faith grandparents to read to their Jewish grandchildren. With lovely, soft, warm illustrations, we read the story of Rachel and her [...]

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Book Review | The Brave Women Who Saved Moses
by Alison Greengard

Score: 3

Illustrated by Carol Racklin-Siegel © 2009 EKS Publishing. A retelling of Exodus where Moses is assisted in coming into the world through the efforts of many righteous women – two midwives, his mother, his sister and the Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 1,2). It is also an adaptation of the Hebrew text so that those studying Hebrew [...]

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Book Review | JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible
by Ellen Frankel

Score: 4

illustrated by Avi Katz. © 2009, Jewish Publication Society. I have learned over the years not to expect too much from Children’s Bibles.  Normally, I am looking at “Old Testament” Children’s Bibles.  I often find the stories too short and uninteresting, having been over-adapted to fit into the small space allotted. In some cases, I [...]

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Book Review | Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah…Already!
by

Score:

Hanukkah begins this Friday, December 11 (25 Kislev) at sundown. In our home, we will light the first Hanukkah candle and then light our Shabbat candles before we sit down for our festive Hanukkah dinner featuring potato latkes (with applesauce) as the star attraction.We generally give gifts during the Hanukkah holiday. Of course, as our [...]

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Book Review | Hanukkah Around the World
by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Score: 3

It is always fascinating to learn how other Jewish communities around the world celebrate their Jewish holidays. In this companion volume to Passover Around the World, we learn many new and interesting facts about how the customs and traditions of Hanukkah are interpreted and celebrated. In Hanukkah Around the World, stories about families in eight [...]

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Book Review | Hanukkah Moon
by Deborah daCosta

Score: 4

Illustrated by Mosz, Gosia © 2007 Kar-Ben Publishing What a delightful, beautiful, charming and multicultural Hanukkah story. Aunt Luisa is from Mexico and is celebrating Hanukkah and has invited her niece, Isobel, to celebrate with her at her home.  Apparently, in Mexico they celebrate the Hanukkah Moon, which is the Rosh Hodesh moon during Hanukkah. [...]

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Book Review | Menorah Under the Sea
by Esther Susan Heller

Score: 3

© 2009 Kar-Ben Publishing Jewish educators, teachers, librarians…this book proves that arts and crafts lessons are well worth your time and energy! Here is a wondrous book about a marine ecologist, doing research in Antarctica. Because it is summer time there, the sun never sets.  Nevertheless, it is the first night of Hanukkah, he is [...]

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Book Review | Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
by Eric Kimmel

Score: 5

Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman ©1985  Holiday House If I was stuck on a desert island during Hanukkah and could only bring one children’s Hanukkah book with me, I would bring this book. Classic, timeless and always enjoyable, great for reading out loud or reading alone, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is hands down my [...]

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Book Review | Hanukkah Haiku
by Harriet Ziefert

Score: 3

Illustrated by Karla Gudeon. © 2008 Blue Apple Books This is a unique Hanukkah book for a number of reasons. First, for each night of Hanukkah there is a lovely Haiku which charmingly addresses – as only a Haiku can – a specific Hanukkah custom. You and your students, or family members, will enjoy counting [...]

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Book Review | Passover Around the World
by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Score: 3

Illustrated by Elizabeth Wolf. © 2007, Kar-Ben Publishing. This is a lovely book explaining the different ways that Passover is celebrated in various countries throughout the world. The customs are so varied that I believe that matzah may be the only unifying factor in the celebrations!  Nonetheless this book provides students with a number of [...]

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Book Review | Rebecca’s Journey Home
by Brynn Olenberg Sugarman

Score: 4

This book describes in wonderful detail and with beautiful illustrations the many steps the Stein family had to take in order to adopt a child from Vietnam. It describes how Le Thi Hong would become Rebecca Rose and then Rivka Shoshana. It describes how she would be Vietnamese, American and Jewish. It also describes her [...]

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Book Review | Across the Alley
by Richard, Michelson

Score: 4

Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. © 2006 – Putnam. This story is set in old-time Brooklyn, New York. Abe is a young, white, Jewish boy. Willie is his young, black neighbor. Abe’s grandfather thinks he will be “the next Jascha Heifetz.” Willie’s father “was a starter in the Negro leagues” therefore Willie is “going to [...]

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Book Review | Abraham’s Search for God
by Jacqueline Jules

Score: 4

Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano.  ©2007, Kar-Ben Publishing. This is a beautiful retelling of the midrash about Abraham’s discovery of Monotheism. It is told in a way that young children can grasp the concept of a Power so much greater than anything on this earth that created everything on this earth. Yet, they can understand that [...]

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Book Review | A Mezuzah on the Door
by Amy Meltzer

Score: 3

In this warm and uniquely illustrated story, we read about Noah, a young boy who has moved to a house in the suburbs after growing up in the city. He has fallen asleep to the sounds of his neighbors sneezing, playing violin and doing dishes and now finds it difficult to sleep with so much [...]

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Book Review | Mendel’s Accordion
by Heidi Smith Hyde

Score: 5

This is an exceptional picture book. While providing another version of a Jewish immigrant’s journey from Russia to America, it also describes the rebirth of Klezmer music as it occurred in one family. This is the story of Mendel and his accordion providing music to his community then joining up with other musicians to form [...]

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Book Review | The First Gift
by A.S. Gadot

Score: 4

This is a lovely book. My only wish would be that they had made one for girls as well. Nonetheless, this book explores the First Gift that every parent gives their child and discusses how names are given to babies the world over. The story begins with a boy named David. It goes through the [...]

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Book Review | Five Little Gefiltes
by Dave Horowitz

Score: 4

Illustrated by Dave Horowitz © 2007, G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I will admit, the first time I read this book I wondered what I was supposed to think? Should I be offended? Was this just the height of chutzpah to think that people would actually want to own a book about gefilte fish? I personally dislike [...]

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Book Review | A Grandma/Grandpa Like Yours
by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum

Score: 3

This beautiful two-sided book is delightful in its rhyming verse and it’s beautiful illustrations. Side one A Grandma Like Yours illustrates all different animal grandmas, bubbes, savtas and nanas, doing all the wonderful things that grandmas do for their grandchildren – lighting Shabbat candles, making challah, delivering Shelach Manot baskets, etc.  Side Two A Grandpa [...]

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Book Review | Hanukkah at Valley Forge
by Stephen Krensky

Score: 5

Having been to Valley Forge and seen the cabins described and accurately pictured in this beautifully illustrated work, I was immediately drawn to this book. In addition, the story is incredibly enchanting. Reading in the Author’s Note that it may in fact be true makes it only richer in my mind. Hanukkah At Valley Forge [...]

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Book Review | Tara’s Flight
by Ruth Eitzen

Score: 2

This is a nice Noah’s Ark story with lovely, colorful and bright illustrations. The ending with its message of peace is beautiful and one that should definitely be shared. However, at the end of the day, Why Noah Chose the Dove by Isaac Bashevis Singer with illustrations by Eric Carle is still the Noah’s Ark [...]

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Book Review | Psalms for Young Children
by Marie-Helene Delval

Score: 4

Illustrated byArno © 2008, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. This is a beautiful way to introduce young children to the Book of Psalms. The Psalms themselves have been well-adapted using language and concepts that children can understand. The accompanying illustrations are quite beautiful and assist in defining the meaning of the text. I always search [...]

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Book Review | Let My People Go!
by Tilda Balsley

Score: 3

Illustrated by Ilene Richard © 2008, Kar-Ben Publishing. At my house, the plagues are the high point of our Seder. Water turns to blood, frogs fly, and hailstones soar – you get the picture.  This book would be great to use during that section of the Haggadah especially with younger children and their families. It [...]

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Book Review | The Bedtime Shema: A Goodnight Book
by Sarah Gershman

Score: 4

This is a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully unique book for very young children and their families. I wish it had been around when my children were younger, as it would have been tremendously helpful in teaching us about Jewish bedtime prayer rituals and soothing some of the fears my young children had about being alone in [...]

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Book Review | As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom
by Richard Michelson

Score: 5

Illustrated by Raul Colón. © 2008 – Knopf Books for Young Readers. Winner of the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers. This is an outstanding book about how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel grew up on different continents at different times yet with similar experiences, and how those experiences caused [...]

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Book Review | Harvest of Light
by Allison Ofanansky

Score: 4

Photographs by Eliyahu Alpem. © 2008.  Kar-Ben/Lerner More than just a Hanukkah book, this could also be shelved with the science collection as it is a fabulous story of how olives become oil. What better way to share the story of the Miracle of Hanukkah than by showing children why the eight days were so [...]

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Book Review | Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman
by Marc Tyler Nobleman

Score: 3.5

The liner notes of this book start out: “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Siegel and Shuster!” Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two young, Jewish residents of Cleveland, were the creators of Superman. However, with the exception of a paragraph in the book’s Afterword that refers to Jerry Siegel’s Jewishness being ridiculed by the [...]

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Book Review | Nothing
by Robin Friedman

Score: 5

This is a timely, completely engaging, amazingly unique book. In it we meet a 17-year-old high school senior, Parker, who has Bulimia, his father who has just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, his 14-year-old sister, Danielle,and his mother. In opposing chapters we read the young man’s story in prose and his sister’s version of events [...]

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Book Review | Penina Levine is a Hard-Boiled Egg
by Rebecca O’Connell

Score: 3.5

There are certain aspects of this story that did not ring true to me. I found it hard to believe that a sixth grade public school teacher would have her class writing Easter bunny letters for a group of kindergarteners at a Catholic school where a friend teaches. I also found it difficult to believe [...]

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Book Review | The Boy Who Dared
by Susan Campell Bartoletti

Score: 4.5

“I don’t want to remember a time I could have done something but didn’t.” During Word War II, there were people who tried to help. There were people who tried to speak out and tell the truth. They were few and most often they did not succeed. Most often, they lost their lives along with [...]

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Book Review | T4
by Ann Clare LeZotte

Score: 4

My extraordinary and learned colleagues on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee have said to me this book “is not Jewish enough.” There is not enough Jewish content to make it eligible for the Sydney Taylor Book Award. My response, as always, is, “Does it matter?” The unspeakable crimes of the Nazis extended beyond the [...]

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Book Review | The Sun’s Special Blessing
by Sandy Wasserman

Score: 2

In my humble opinion, this book should have been published 2 or 3 years ago. That way teachers could have been preparing their students for the very special event that was going to take place in April, 2009. As it is, this book will not be useful again until April 2037 and who knows what [...]

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Book Review | Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class
by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Anne Kennedy

Score: 3

No, this is not a Jewish book, at least, not in the sense that there are clearly identifiable Jewish characters and a clearly identifiable Jewish theme. However, this is a book that any Jewish school could use to convey the Jewish value of Shalom Bayit, Peace in the House, or in this case, Peace in [...]

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Book Review | Even Higher: A Rosh Hashanah Story
by Eric Kimmel

Score: 3

How wonderful to have this extraordinary story back in print and adapted by the master storyteller, Eric Kimmel. As always, we find ourselves in a shtetl full of loyal followers believing their rabbi visits heaven prior to the High Holidays, there is a skeptic who must follow the rabbi to prove them wrong and a [...]

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Book Review | The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal’s Search for the Truth
by Susan Goldman Rubin

Score: 4

At some point every year, I think to myself, “OY, do I have to read another Holocaust book?!” Then, I read one that reminds me why these books are important and need to continue to be written and added to the collections of our synagogue and our public school libraries. This is just such a [...]

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Book Review | Max Said Yes! The Woodstock Story
by Abigail Yasgur & Joseph Lipner

Score: 4.5

This is one of those books where my colleagues and I may disagree. Is it a Jewish book? Does it have Jewish content? They may say no. I would answer, what could be more Jewish than welcoming close to a half-a-million strangers to your farm for three days? The simple rhyming text of the story [...]

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Book Review | Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude
by Jonah Winter

Score: 3

Gertrude Stein was Jewish. Alice B. Toklas was also Jewish. This is a book about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.  I cannot say it is a Jewish book. It has no real Jewish content.  I would not even classify it as a Biography, although that is where it will most likely be shelved.  This [...]

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Book Review | Elvina’s Mirror
by Sylie Weil

Score: 5

This is the second volume in the story of Elvina, Rashi’s daughter, as written by Sylie Weil. Like her first book, My Guardian Angel, this is a well written, appealing story that not only describes life in an 11th century French Jewish community, but also has a fascinating plot with well-developed characters. I could not [...]

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Book Review | The Mysteries of Beethoven’s Hair
by Russell Martin and Lydia Nibley

Score: 4

This wonderful book is both an interesting biography of Ludwig van Beethoven and an intriguing and engaging account of what happened to a lock of his hair that was removed from his head shortly after he died.  One might ask, is this a Jewish book? Actually, the Jewish content is probably the most intriguing part [...]

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Book Review | The Yankee at the Seder
by Elka Weber

Score: 5

Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. © 2009, Tricycle Press. A 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Book. This story gave me chills. It is revealing, powerful, tense and emotional. Set in Virginia right after the Civil War has been lost by the South, a family of Southern Jews is preparing for Passover, when a young Yankee officer shows [...]

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Book Review | The Importance of Wings
by Robin Friedman

Score: 4

With their mother in Israel helping their ailing aunt, Roxanne and her sister, Gayle, are pretty much left to their own devices while their father works all evening as a taxi driver. Under loved, underfed and overdosed on TV and cereal is a fair description of their lifestyle.   What Roxanne wants is a stable home [...]

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Book Review | When It’s Purim
by Edie Stoltz Zolkower

Score: 2

Celebrate Purim in the forest with cute toy-like animals making hamantaschen for giving away. Charming illustrations, combine with a simple lilting rhyming text for an entertaining little board book for very young readers and their families. I highly recommend it for all Jewish libraries. Grade Range: Pre-K-1 grades This book is for YOUNGER  Readers.

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Book Review | We’re All in the Same Boat
by Zachary Shapiro

Score: 5

Illustrated by Jack E. Davis.  ©2009, G. P. Putnam and Sons. We had just had three weeks of rain. The Boston Globe had published instructions for building an ark on the front page…above the fold! The summer was looking a bit grim in New England when I picked up this book and a rainbow appeared. [...]

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Book Review | Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
by Deborah Bodin Cohen

Score: 4.5

This is a beautiful Holiday book combining Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Israeli History into a delightful picture book. This is the story of the first train to run between Jaffa and Jerusalem. In simple prose, we learn that the train left Jaffa and picked up festival foods on its way to Jerusalem – apples, [...]

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Book Review | Brooklyn Bridge
by Karen Hesse

Score: 3

This exceptional book by Karen Hesse is based on the true story of the family who found their “goldene medina” by creating the original stuffed Teddy Bear. The author weaves Teddy Bears, Coney Island, orphans, ghosts and immigrant life in America into a thoughtful, strange but in the end reassuring coming of age story. Finding [...]

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Book Review | Today is the Birthday of the World
by Linda Heller

Score: 3.5

This is a beautiful, excellent story told in simple language for the very young. Each creature on earth has a gift for which we are accountable to God. All God asks of us is that we be the best we can be. If we can tell God at the end of the year that we [...]

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Book Review | So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother)
by Micol Asow

Score: 4

Social networking, ring tones, the “F word” (OK, maybe not the actual word but “f^&*” is close enough for me. I know what it means), those are my take aways from this highly readable, very modern book that will definitely entertain anyone who is currently enrolled in a Jewish Day School. Ari Abramson is a [...]

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Book Review | Sammy Spider’s First Day of School
by Sylvia A. Rouss

Score: 3

Sammy Spider is back and I am excited he is finally finished with concepts (i.e. colors, shapes, etc.) and is now working on Values. Hooray!  As always, the story is well written using simple and easily understood language, the illustrations consistently beautiful, brightly colored collages. Sammy is starting Kindergarten and this story is looking at [...]

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Book Review | New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story
by April Halprin Wayland

Score: 4

Having lived near Manhattan Beach, CA I could picture this story in my mind as I read it. Striking, warm, colorful artwork is used to perfectly illustrate the time of year and the celebration of Tashlich at the pier on the beach. The story is beautifully told as Ms. Wayland describes the difficulty in remembering [...]

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Book Review | Naomi’s Song
by Selma Kritzer Silverberg

Score: 5

OK, I will admit it, I was fully prepared to write this book off when I first picked it up.  The Foreword’s headline is “The Hidden Manuscript of Naomi’s Song.” For me, that is a death knell. “Oh my God,” I thought. “Here we go again, another self-published book, found in the attic by someone’s [...]

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Book Review | Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim
by Deborah Bodin Cohen

Score: 5

This is a beautifully written midrash about the story of Nachshon, the individual who was the first to step into the waters of the Reed Sea thereby enabling the Jewish People to reach freedom on the other side. Nachshon is portrayed as a brave young man who is not afraid of anything – Egyptian taskmasters, [...]

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Book Review | My Life in Pink & Green
by Lisa Greenwald

Score: 2

Except for some girls who come into the pharmacy to have the main character of the story do their makeup for their Bat Mitzvah, this book has no Jewish content.  That is so unfortunate, because it is a very interesting read. A twelve-year-old girl, Lucy Desberg, uses her skills at applying makeup, and some other [...]

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Book Review | My First Yiddish Word Book
by Joni Kibort Sussman

Score: 3

Illustrated by Pepi Marzel. © 2009, KarBen Publishing. This beautiful, basic reference book could be used by all ages. Double page picture spreads are set up to show a specific setting – house, clothes, school, for example. On the bottom of each spread, specific items are pictured with their Yiddish name in Hebrew letters, transliteration [...]

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Book Review | Lost
by Jacqueline Davies

Score: 4.5

This is an interesting twist on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire story. It takes two true stories – The Triangle Fire and a newspaper report of a missing New York heiress – and folds them into one exciting, interesting, captivating account of life on the Lower East Side of New York. The language of the [...]

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Book Review | I Am God’s Paintbrush
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Score: 3.5

This great and timely board book introduces young children to spirituality. The simple language is highly interactive and  uses colors to enable a parent or caregiver to engage with a child around this interesting topic.  By pointing to the pictures and looking at the world around them for comparison, a child can recognize that they [...]

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Book Review | The Disappearing Dowry
by Libi Astaire

Score: 4

In this highly engaging and captivating story, the reader is held spellbound as the narrator spins the tale of the near tragedy that almost befell her family when a thief steals her father’s hidden coins on the same day the banks fail in Regency London. The family is assisted by a wealthy, yet scholarly gentleman, [...]

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Book Review | Benjamin and the Silver Goblet
by Jacqueline Jules

Score: 4

Every time I read this Bible story, I get emotional. This version is no exception. As I came to the final page [SPOILER ALERT] and Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, tears came to my eyes and I got goose bumps. It is not as if I did not know how the story was going [...]

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Book Review | Freefall
by Anna Levine

Score: 4.5

This excellent book for young adults provides a wonderful glimpse into Israeli Army life. It evokes all the feelings one would have while training in the desert, falling out of an airplane, hearing an air raid siren, waiting for news of a loved one duing a battle. The true lesson of this book however, is [...]

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Book Review | Memories of Babi
by Aranka Siegal

Score: 4

This book delivered a delightful meaningful message of what living Jewishly really means and the unconditional love between a grandmother and granddaughter. It contains wonderful, readable, emotional and highly visual stories that made me laugh out loud, gave me goosebumps and had me crying. The author describes the sights, sounds and smells of her life [...]

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Book Review | Don’t Talk to Me About the War
by David A. Adler

Score: 3

There is not much Jewish content in this nicely written book by David Adler.  There is one Jewish character who worries over the fate of her aunt and uncle living in Europe – the father and mother of her two counsins who have been sent over to live with her family.  Primarily, this book is [...]

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Book Review | It’s Israel’s Birthday
by Tod. Kar-Ben Cohen

Score: 3

The children pictured in this book are adorable-there will be lots of oohing and aahing as you turn the pages of this charming, delightful picture book filled with photographs of cute pre-schooler celebrating Israel’s birthday. Watch them play in the archeological dig sandbox, swim in the “Dead Sea”, and take the “airplane” home etc. This [...]

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Book Review | Celebrating with Jewish Crafts
by Rebecca Edid Ruzansky

Score: 4

Teachers and older kids who can do craft projects on their own will love this book. The projects it contains are excellent. The instructions are well presented, clear, readable with easy-to-follow photographs of each step. There are projects for evey Jewish holiday as well as general occasions. All the information you need – materials, directions, [...]

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Book Review | Sammy Spider’s First Shavuot
by Sylvia A. Rouss

Score: 2

Sammy Spider is back to teach us about Shavuot and the concept of step-by-step or “First-Then-Now” as described in the book. While I love the colorful, collage illustrations put together by Katherine Janus Kahn, I am a little tired of Sammy Spider and mixing concepts with Jewish holidays. I realize that it is great to [...]

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Book Review | God’s Dream
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams

Score: 5

I LOVE THIS BOOK! It is simple with a powerful message – shalom bayit. We all need to get along with one another. No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, or our faith. We cannot hurt one another. We must take care of one another. With beautiful illustrations, simple little words, [...]

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Book Review | Joseph the Dreamer
by Alison Greengard

Score: 3

As an adult learning Hebrew, I love this series of Bible stories from EKS. The illustrations are gorgeous-bold, bright colorful. The Hebrew text is easy to read, easy to engage with. There is a fabulous dictionary in the back with excellent translations and transliterations (if you need them.) This is a must have for those [...]

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Book Review | Rina’s Rainy Day
by Chani Altein

Score: 3

As a strong believer in the Universe and that everything happens for a reason, I am delighted to find a children’s book delivering just such a message using charming, rhyming text. Unfortunately, the illustrations are really horrendous. The story centers on a traditional Jewish household with a young girl who looks like a 40-year-old. Why, [...]

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Book Review | The Apprentice’s Masterpiece
by Little, Melanie

Score: 3

An interesting story set in 15th century Spain during the rise of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Peaceful days of religious coexistence have come to an end. Told in free verse, this is a story of Conversos – Jews who converted to Christianity – and Moriscos – Muslims who converted to Christianity. Highly descriptive and [...]

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Book Review | How Mama Brought the Spring
by Fran Manushkin

Score: 4

Is it Jewish? The author is Fran Manushkin…The story revolves around a character named Rosy Levine…Rosy has a cat named, Moishe? Hmmm…Rosy’s mother tells her a story about her winters in Minsk…Rosy’s grandmother cooks in the kitchen while singing a niggun, “Di-deedle-dee! Di-deedle-deedle-dee!”…turns out Grandma Beatrice is cooking blintzes, which in my book (granted a [...]

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Book Review | Portraits of Jewish-American Heroes
by Malka Drucker

Score: 3

This is a diverse and unique collection of biographies of Jewish Americans. What I love about this book is that it is not the usual cast of characters. Lillian Wald is in this book. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman are here.  Daniel Pearl has a chapter. The illustrations are lovely and meaningful. There is a [...]

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Book Review | A Dozen Daisies for Raizy: A Shavuos Story
by Rebecca Klempner

Score: 3

Here is a lovely Shavuot story of sharing all the mitzvot of the holiday with the entire community. The text is simple, with a cute count down sub-story. The illustrations are beautiful watercolor line drawings that illustrate the text beautifully. With so few books available about this important holiday, this is a wonderful addition to [...]

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Book Review | The King in the Field
by Dina Rosenfeld

Score: 3

This is a beautiful version of an old Jewish parable told in charming, lilting rhyme with beautiful manuscript-like illustrations of medieval village life. This would be a perfect book to read during Elul and for pre-High Holiday preparations. It describes our talking to God and being aware of God’s presence in our lives especially during [...]

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Book Review | Raise a Rabbit; Grow a Goose
by Yaffa Ganz

Score: 3

Here is a great story to share with children who are angling for a pet. The story is told in very simple language and the illustrations are clear, line drawings, well done and expressive. Two best friends, determined to have a pet, figure out what kinds of pets to get within the boundaries set by [...]

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Book Review | Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig
by Anna Levine

Score: 3

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah – Another Maccabee story with a twist. Set in Modi’in, a little girl wants to be an archeologist. She finds herself at a site where she is “lucky” enough to be with her father when a person small enough to fit into a hole is needed. She is lowered into a newly [...]

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Book Review | Where Shabbat Lives
by Jan Goldin Fabiyi

Score: 2

This is a beautiful little Shabbat board book for little hands. It describes Shabbat from Friday night through Havdalah which is unusual and welcome. As expected, the language is simple. The illustrations are soft, warm and attractive. This is a must have for those libraries with a population of families with young children or a [...]

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Book Review | The Wedding that Saved the Town
by Yale Strom

Score: 4

Here is an interesting, unique book about a rare subject – the shvartze chaseneh, a “black wedding.” This is a wedding ceremony that Eastern European Jews would perform during times of great stress due to disease. While I am not quite sure that younger readers will appreciate or understand the concet of the “Black Wedding,” [...]

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Book Review | The Princess and the Ziz
by Jacqueline Jules

Score: 3

This is a delightfully told folk tale – this time apparently the true folk tale – of the Ziz who brings the true love of King Solomon’s daughter to her where she is held prisoner in a high tower for safekeeping. Katherine Janus Kahn’s exquisite, stained glass-like, brightly colored illustrations infuse this story with a [...]

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Book Review | Good Night Sh’ma
by Jacqueline Jules

Score: 3

A lovely bedtime book for very young children and their parents or grandparents. This would also be a nice baby gift for new parents. This charming little book introduces very young children to the concept of saying the Sh’ma before going to sleep each night. The brief text is written in simple rhyme. The illustrations [...]

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Book Review | Rashi’s Daughter, Secret Scholar
by Maggie Anton

Score: 4

In this engaging and educational book, we learn about life during Rashi’s time – 11th century France. The historical acuracy appears to have been well researched. With only daughters, and independent, demanding ones at that, Rashi must struggle with the baoundaries of his Torah and Talmud knowledge and his need to educate them. He decides [...]

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Book Review | Nothing
by Robin Friedman

Score: 5

In this timely, completely engaging, amazingly unique book, we meet a teenage boy with Bulimia and his father who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. In opposing chapters we read the young man’s story in prose and his sister’s version of events in free verse. I could not put it down and read it in [...]

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Book Review | The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
by Suzanne Lieurance

Score: 2

A fictionalized yet highly emotional account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. There is historical information in the back of the book that describes the actual turn of events along with Further Reading and internet sites that provide more information. This would be a nice addition to the Historical Fiction section of Jewish libraries. Grade Level: [...]

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Book Review | The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 5

Let us celebrate! A beautifully illustrated Sukkot story, a folktale, beautifully told by a master storyteller. Not only a Sukkot story but a story with a values lesson as well…be as beautiful on the inside as on the outside or be prepared for the consequences. I highly recommend this book for all Jewish libraries. Grade [...]

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Book Review | A Child’s Book of Prayers
by Juli Kangas

Score: 0

This beautifully illustrated little book is filled with lovely little prayers for very young children. Unfortunately, they are prayers that are of the Father in Heaven style. They could be modified, but it would take a lot of work. This is a nice teacher reference rather than a book that might be checked out by [...]

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Book Review | Nathan’s Hanukkah Bargain
by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

Score: 3

Yes, another Hanukkah story. But this is a nice one about a grandfather and a grandson on a quest to find the perfect menorah. The illustrations are exactly—and I do mean EXACTLY—as in every Toby Belfer book. The same faces, the same expressions. Beyond that however, the story is very dear in the lessons taught [...]

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Book Review | A Is For Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet
by Richard Michelson

Score: 4.5

Illustrated by Ron Mazellan. © 2008, Sleeping Bear Press. Who knew an ABC book could hold so much information? This is a beautifully illustrated, fun, fact-filled book. Using simple poetry in the main text and accompanied by additional material on the sidebars, the author takes us on a fantastic ride through Judaism. Combined with gorgeous [...]

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Book Review | The Mozart Question
by Michael Morpurgo

Score: 3

This small storybook holds a lovely, well-written story and gorgeous watercolor illustrations. The message is one of following your passion no matter how difficult the road may be. While this is a Holocaust story it is presented in such a way – with a twist that makes it into a mystery to be resolved – [...]

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Book Review | Someone for Mr. Sussman
by Patricia Polacco

Score: 4

This is Patricia Polaco at her very best – wonderous, brightly colored illustrations combined with delightful, outrageous storytelling. Bubbe the Matchmaker tries to rope in a match for herself and the results are to die for. “No pot is so crooked that there isn’t a lid to fit it!” is Bubbe’s motto, but Mr. Sussman [...]

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Book Review | Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake
by Rebecca O'Connell

Score: 2

This is another story about Penina Levine, this time set during the Hanukkah season. This time Penina and her best friend must cope with losing their favorite teacher and a huge blizzard. Most importantly, however, Penina must cope with a visit from her grandparents that begins with a fight between her mother and grandmother. There [...]

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Book Review | Sarah Laughs
by Jacqueline Jules

Score: 5

Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano.  ©2008, Kar-Ben Publishing. This is an extraordinarily beautiful picture book retelling of the life of Sarah. The illustrations are bright, colorful and bold. The text is whimsical, delightful and filled with amazing metaphors. Throughout the book, watch Sarah’s eyes and you will see all her feelings as conveyed in the text. [...]

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Book Review | How I Learned Geography
by Uri Shulevitz

Score: 4

This is an exquisitely illustrated book describing the gift of imagination. It may be difficult to introduce it to young children, however, as it begins with the main character and his family running away from war. But the idea of a map being a place to fuel our imaginations is a wonderful concept and one [...]

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Book Review | Genesis–the Book with Seventy Faces: A Guide for the Family
by Esther Takac

Score: 5

©2008, Simcha Media Group. An excellent resource book with a broad perspective on the first book of the Torah. B’nai Mitzvah students doing research for their D’var Torahs will find this a useful tool that they can engage with and understand for discovering a deeper meaning to Torah.  Parents can use this book to engage [...]

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Book Review | Keeping Israel Safe: Serving in the Israel Defense Forces
by Barbara Sofer

Score: 3

This is a unique, well written book with great pictures about Army service in Israel. It is really very well done and there is nothing like it that I have seen. In this time of giving back to your country, it is nice to have a book demonstraing and explaining the choices that Israeli kids [...]

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Book Review | A Bottle in the Gaza Sea
by Valerie Zenatti

Score: 5

This is a really excellent portrayal of both sides of this exceedingly difficult dilemma. I could not put this book down.  This writer gets it. She uses a medium kids will love – emailing and instant text messaging – to create a story that is in turns engaging, interesting, despairing and joyful. A must have [...]

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Book Review | The Walls of Cartagena
by Tom Pohrt

Score: 4

This is a great story with a Jewish twist.The Spanish Inquisition intrudes on a young, black slave’s’ life, causing him to review his life in a very special way. The mitzvot of “Redeeming the Captive,” “Caring for the Sick” and many others are reflected throughout this extraordinary saga. And though at the end we learn [...]

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Book Review | Honey Cake
by Joan Betty Stuchner

Score: 4

This is a great easy reader about Denmark and the Jews during World War II. It is based on the true story of how the entire country worked together to help save the country’s Jewish community from the Nazi’s. There is a delicious Honey Cake recipe in the back of the book and some lovely [...]

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Book Review | Naming Liberty
by Jane Yolen

Score: 4

This is a book with two stories told side-by-side. On one side is the story of the immigrant experience and on the other the story of the creation of the Statue of Liberty. The text is simple, yet descriptive. The illustrations detailed, intense and warm. The author based the story on family members’ experiences of [...]

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Book Review | Creation Song
by Anna Scott-Brown

Score: 3

Illustrated by Elana Gomez.  ©2008, Lion Books. This is a beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated midrash of the Creation story. In it God is dreaming and singing and dancing the world into being. The text is filled with joy and love, music and laughter. The bright, bold colors of the plants and animals, trees and [...]

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Book Review | Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder
by Bryna J. Fireside

Score: 4.5

This is a beautifully told, beautifully illustrated yet very different telling of the Passover story. We sit and watch during the Civil War with Jewish soldiers and former slaves who are soldiers as they prepare for and create a Passover Seder with the materials at hand. This is a great chapter book for younger readers [...]

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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 [...]

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Book Review | Rebecca: An American Girl
by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

Score: 4

After years of asking, the American Girls collection has finally brought forth a Jewish American Girl. Meet Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish American girl, growing up in New York City in 1914. Fortunately, they asked a premiere children’s author to write these books. I could find very little fault with any of them. Overall, the books [...]

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Book Review | All God’s Critters
by Bill Staines

Score: 3

This is a wonderful book for storytime, sing alongs. The illustrations are laugh out loud silly, as every living thing participates in the choir. Each child can choose and animal and sing out loud to their heart’s content. There is nothing fundamentally Jewish in the song itself, however the message – we all have a [...]

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Book Review | Alef-Bet Yoga for Kids
by Ruth Goldeen

Score: 3.5

What an interesting book. I thoroughly enjoyed the photos of the charming children doing there yoga poses in the shapes of the Aleph-Bet, one letter per page. The kids represent the multicultural faces of Judaism today, which is really lovely to see in pictures. The glossary at the back of the book explains each letter, [...]

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