Joyful Jewish

Posts Tagged ‘book review

As my daughter (and our book collection!) continues to grow, I’ve decided to share the love and give some of our books away to friends with younger children.  Before they go, here are my thoughts on them.

Happy Birthday, World – a Rosh Hashanah Celebration by Latifa Berry Kropf, illustrated by Lisa Carlson

Book for Rosh Hashanah

Happy Birthday, World introduces some of the customs of Rosh Hashanah (eating apples dipped in honey, blowing the shofar, giving tzedakah) by comparing them with activities a child would associate with their own birthday (eating cake, tooting party horns, getting presents).  The realistic illustrations show a contemporary boy and girl with their parents.  It’s a board book with simple text, suitable for the youngest of children able to follow along.

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Apples and Honey – A Rosh Hashanah Story by Jonny Zucker, illustrated by Jan Barger Cohen

Apples and Honey

Apples and Honey introduces a more extensive list of customs of Rosh Hashanah, including wearing new clothes, performing tashlich and eating pomegranate on the second evening.  Despite the title, it’s not really what I’d call a story, although it follows a family through a set of scenes. The illustrations are engagingly colourful.  There are a couple of pages of explanatory material (in child-friendly language) at the end of the book, including one on blowing the shofar.  I would suggest suitable for children 2 or 3 years old.

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How the Rosh Hashanah Challah Became Round by Sylvia B. Epstein, illustrated by Hagit Migron

How the Rosh Hashanah Challah became round

Jossi is the son of the local baker, and he is very proud to help his father make bread for the townsfolk.  One day he is proudly carrying freshly plaited “challahs” to the oven when suddenly he trips.  The loaves roll down the stairs, becoming round in the process.  The townsfolk are at first unimpressed by these strangely misshapen challahs, but on the eve of Rosh Hashanah the local rabbi is inspired to find meaning in their shape, and soon everyone is agreeing with him.

This book assumes familiarity with the concepts of challah and Rosh Hashanah, and offers a gently humorous explanation for a question which probably occurs to children each Rosh Hashanah.  The illustrations are very simple cartoons.  It’s a little longer than the previous two books, and would be suitable for children over 3, or who are in that “Mum, why is….???” stage.

Bim and Bom – A Shabbat Tale by Daniel J Swartz, illustrated by Melissa Iwai.

This is our favourite Shabbat story.   Bim and Bom are siblings: Bim (the sister) is a builder and Bom (her brother) is a baker.  Each works hard at their job during the week, and on Friday they do mitzvot, something to help others, before rushing to meet each other and welcome in Shabbat.

At the end of the book are the words and tune for the song “Bim Bom (Shabbat Shalom)” which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is one of our favourite Shabbat songs.

Things I like about this book compared to other shabbat books we’ve seen include: the refreshing lack of gender stereotyping or annoyingly trite rhyme,  the lovely colours of the illustrations, the way Shabbat is given a context in the week and the emphasis on the kindnesses the siblings show to others rather than just the specific rituals of Shabbat.

I think 3+ year olds would enjoy this story.


Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

A resource site for anyone who wants to share the joy of being Jewish with the children in their life.

Enjoy!