Tag Archives: Jewish

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, A Story about Knitting and Love

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, A Story about Knitting and Love
 

by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016

An endearing story, masterfully told.  A good read for a cold day snuggle under the blankets

Sophia and Mrs. Goldman make knitted hats.  Sophia, who tried to learn how to knit last year, makes pom-poms for the hats Mrs. Goldman knits.   Ever generous, Mrs. Goldman gives away the hats off her own head to keep others warm.  Sophia worries Mrs. Goldman will get sick.  At last she decides to knit her a hat.  She works on it night and day and when it is done it is bumpy and lumpy and holey!  She can’t give it to Mrs. Goldman, it looks like a monster and will scare Mrs. Goldman’s dog.  She thinks and thinks until at last her heart grows bigger and lighter, like a balloon.  She knows exactly what to do to complete the hat for Mrs. Goldman.

Illustrator G. Brian Karas captures the struggles Sophia experiences and how she works though them to show her love to Mrs. Goldman.

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Oskar and the Eight Blessings

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Oskar and the Eight Blessings
Richard Simon and Tanya Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel
Roaring Book Press, 2015

I begin 2016 with Oskar and the Eight Blessings, a beautifully illustrated, timeless story with a powerful message.

The story begins before the title page, as did the stories of all the Jewish immigrants who escaped the war horrors of World War II.  As a young boy, Oskar arrives in New York with an address and a picture of an aunt he has never seen.  She lives only 100 blocks away on the avenue called Broadway.  He remembers his father’s last words, “You have to look for the blessings.”  After a long time walking, he meets a lady feeding pigeons.  She gives him a bit of bread to give to the birds, but he eats it.  She gives him a small loaf of bread and he has the strength to keep walking.  He’s introduced to Superman, he meets Mrs. Roosevelt and his first conversation in America is when he whistles with Count Basie.  Along his journey he receives eight blessings.

The author’s note details the American history woven into the fictional story set in 1938 and a map shows the sites at which several of the blessings occurred.  The illustrations are done in relaxed comic book style and highlight the many different fearful sights and loving blessings Oskar encounters on his journey.

A very moving story that stays with the reader.

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Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein

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Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein
by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015

As you know from the title, this book is about a Jewish girl who writes a letter to Santa.

In this poignant tale, Young Rachel sees all the bright lights, decorated trees, and gifts on display to celebrate Christmas and wants to celebrate it “like everyone else does”.  But her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas and she must accept that.  The book has several worthy quotes, including,

“But when Christmas came to town, Rachel felt like a kid in a candy store with no mouth.”

She asks if they can put up lights.  No.  She asks if they can put up a tree, like another Jewish family.  No.  So that night, Rachel writes a letter to Santa asking him to come to her house.

“…I know that you are a fair person and will not mind that I am Jewish.  After all, so was                 Jesus, at least on his mother’s side.”

She visits Santa, to ask him in person.  And on the eve before Christmas, she makes cookies (out of latke’s) and decorates her house for Santa.  But, of course, he doesn’t come.  As is the family’s tradition, they go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, but this year she sees her friends, Lucy Deng, Mike Rashid and Amina Singh, who also don’t celebrate Christmas.  Learning about their holiday celebrations, she reasons, “why feel so bad about one little old day like Christmas?”

Truly a wonderful book about diversity!  An eye opener for those who celebrate Christmas, to remind them it is a religious holiday, not celebrated by everyone, and to be aware of cultural differences.

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My Grandfather’s Coat (A Contemporary “Recycling” Story!)

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My Grandfather’s Coat
By Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Scholastic Press, 2014
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

Expecting the traditional tale of My Grandfather’s Coat, where grandfather’s coat is transformed into a jacket, a vest and a tie, I was surprised and delighted at the story’s new, fresh ending!  And illustrator Barbara McClintock did a beautiful job of breaking the story into spreads with large drawings and scattered small drawings, highlighting Jim Aylesworth’s rhymes and repetition.  Plenty to delight a young listener into this multi-generational story that emphasizing families and thriftiness.

While the story has always focused on being frugal, in today’s world of recycling cans, food, and cloth, the story underscores the message that we use our resources until there is nothing to send to the landfill!  A wonderful message!

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.