Archive for the ‘Purim’ Category

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.
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.

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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Reach out and help someone: Ha’achalat Re’evim/Feeding the Hungry

“You shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother,

but…lend him sufficient for his need.”

~ Deuteronomy 15:7

The Jewish calendar is complex and once in a while we need a Leap Month in order to insure that we are not celebrating Passover in July or Rosh Hashanah in December.  I will let others more articulate than I explain why this is so, but it is our good fortune to be welcoming the Jewish leap month of Adar I (Also called Adar Rishon/ the first Adar or Adar Alef), this coming Shabbat (Friday evening, February 4.)

Since Adar is the month in which we celebrate Purim, one of Judaism’s most fun and festive holidays, it is as if we have been granted an extra 30 days to plan, prepare and look forward to Purim and perhaps get in a few extra mitzvot (commandments, good deeds) for good measure. In truth, amid all the fun and frolic, Purim has four big responsibilities: The mitzvah of listening to Esther’s story, the mitzvah of celebrating Purim with a meal, the mitzvah of sending gifts to one another, and the mitzvah of sending gifts to the poor. That brings me to this month’s Jewish value: Ha’achalat Re’evim/Feeding the Hungry.

In these difficult economic times, when many of our neighbors face the daily challenges brought on by unemployment or underemployment, whatever we can do to support their struggles is a blessing. Here is a list of books that may help you become more aware of their plight and how you can help:

Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Kids Can Press, Ltd., © 1995. A beggar arrives in a small town on a cold winter’s night hoping for a hot meal. Instead he finds empty houses and no one to share any food with him. Until he begins cooking up a pot of Bone Button Borscht. Ages 4-8.

The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern. Illustrated by Marni Backer. Turtle Books, © 1997. During the winter holiday season, a brother and sister secretly try to help a woman they see sleeping in a box outside of their local deli. Of course, when their mother finds out what they are doing, she gets involved and everything changes. Ages 4-8.

Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier. Illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, © 2001. When an African family receives a goat from Heifer International, a young girl is able to attend school. Ages 4-8.

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen Written and illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. Morrow Junior Books, © 1991. A young boy spends the day with his uncle at the local soup kitchen where he works feeding the community’s poorest residents. Ages 6-9.

Dew Drop Deadby James Howe. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, © 1990. Three children investigate a murder involving the homeless shelter in town. Ages 9-13.

Darnell Rock Reporting by Walter Dean Myers. Delacorte Press, © 1994. A thirteen-year-old boy who is uninterested in school suddenly finds himself the center of attention when he joins the school newspaper and becomes an advocate for the homeless using a piece of school property for a vegetable garden. Ages 9-14.

A Kids’ Guide to Hunger and Homelessness: How to Take Action! by Cathryn Berger Kaye, Free Spirit Press © 2007. An excellent book packed with great ideas for social action projects and ways to get involved in this serious issue. Ages 9-14.

This list, and the upcoming list for older readers, should assist you and your family in understanding the plight of the poor and hungry in our communities, You can also visit for a look at what the Jewish community is doing to help fight hunger. It is my hope that with understanding comes the ideas and the assistance necessary to see an end to the difficulties suffered by so many all over the world. Ken Yehi Ratzon/ May it be God’s will.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and 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.

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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