Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale

Eric A. Kim­mel; Jim Starr, illus.

  • Review
By – June 15, 2017

Big Sam is the rol­lick­ing Jew­ish answer to Paul Bun­yan. When Rosh Hashanah comes around, he digs a big hole (today’s Grand Canyon) in which he begins to mix up a chal­lah recipe. He whit­tles a Cal­i­for­nia red­wood tree into a mix­ing spoon, and when the dough is fin­ished, he sets it to rise in Yel­low­stone Park, where the gey­sers keep the ground warm and steamy. The chal­lah fin­ish­es bak­ing right on sched­ule for the hol­i­day, but wait — not so fast. Time for a lit­tle tikkun olam. Big Sam’s bak­ing has left a giant-sized mess, with tram­pled fields, dammed-up rivers, and the like. Now he must put the world to right again, which he does, just in time to see in the new year with his friends. This book is noth­ing but pure fun from begin­ning to end, with a gen­tle envi­ron­men­tal les­son thrown in. Kimmel’s tall tale is per­fect for read­ing aloud, and soft, evoca­tive illus­tra­tions that show the grandeur of an old-time Amer­i­can land­scape are a per­fect match. A cross-coun­try map of the coun­try as end­pa­per is a bonus. Match­ing Rosh Hashanah with an appre­ci­a­tion of the nat­ur­al world is an inspired choice.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 to 8.

Leslie Kim­mel­man grew up out­side Philadel­phia and grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies; and Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Books. Kim­mel­man is an edi­tor at Sesame Work­shop and lives with her fam­i­ly just north of New York City.

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