Children’s Books Say ‘Shanah Tovah’
For adults, the high holidays and Sukkot are alternately thoughtful, somber and joyous times. For youngsters, there are new books that can enhance their appreciation and excitement.
Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae By Chris Barash. Illustrated by Christine Battuz (Apples and Honey Press, 24 pp. $17.95)
In graceful rhymes accompanied by bright and whimsical illustrations, four friends learn the meaning of tashlich. Clutching their bags of breadcrumbs, they listen thoughtfully as Rabbi Miriam explains: “On Rosh Hashanah we come to this colorful glade with breadcrumbs that stand for mistakes we have made.” The friends reflect on their own small misdeeds, exchange apologies, then watch “the crumbs drift away in a charming ballet.” Ages 4 to 6.
Shanah Tovah, Grover! By Joni Kibort Sussman. Illustrated by Tom Leigh (Kar-Ben Publishing, 12 pp. $5.99)
This colorful board book for the youngest celebrants of the Jewish New Year features Grover and the beloved Sesame Street cast as they offer holiday instructions, clean the house, put flowers on the table, blow the shofar and dip the requisite apples in honey. Ages 1 to 4.
The Elephant in the Sukkah By Sherri Mandel. Illustrated by Ivana Kuman (Kar-Ben Publishing, 32 pp. $17.99)
Henry, an aged and lonely elephant, discovers the Broner family’s sukkah and learns the holiday songs. Young Ori longs to invite him into their sukkah, but Henry cannot fit through the entryway. The problem is solved by the removal of one wall, which Henry replaces. After all, the Talmud states that “one may use an elephant as a sukkah wall.” An improbable story, The Elephant in the Sukkah is charmingly told and wonderfully illustrated by Ivana Kuman’s artistry. Ages 3 to 8.
Once upon an Apple Cake: A Rosh Hashanah Story By Elana Rubinstein. Illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar (Apples and Honey Press, 112 pp. $16.99)
With Rosh Hashanah looming, orders for the delicious apple cake from the Siegel House restaurant are piling up. But Sara Lee Siegel’s beloved Zaidie is in the hospital and unable to share the secret ingredient that makes his cakes so special. Happily, Sara Lee, who is a talented sniffer, can identify the scents, and she saves the family restaurant. The book includes a recipe for Apple Walnut Ring Cake. Ages 7 to 10.
Chelm for the Holidays By Valerie Estelle Frankel. Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer (Kar-Ben Publishing, 72 pp. $15.99 hardcover, $8.99 paperback)
The legendary village populated by a delightful congregation of fools is recreated in a new collection of vignettes that focuses on how Chelmites deal with holiday dilemmas. When there is no honey in the village market as Rosh Hashanah approaches, a crisis looms: How to celebrate without that golden sweetness? Schlemiel, “the most useless man in the village,” offers a surprise solution. Disguised as a flower, he attracts swarms of bees, leaving their hives empty so that his neighbors can gather the thick combs. He sustains bee bites—and his wife’s wrath—but there is honey enough for apple dipping and cake baking.
Stories of other festivals are fanciful and amusing, although the characters’ names are unfortunate choices that should be exiled from Chelm: Simon the Simpleminded, Leib the Lackwit, Farfel the Fat. Ages 8 to 15.
Gloria Goldreich’s newest book is After Melanie (Severn House).