Lesléa Newman, former poet laureate of Northampton, MA, applies her lyrical talents to present a journey throughout the Jewish year. She begins with an introduction and then follows with individual sections: naming ceremony, Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Tu B’shevat, Purim, Passover, Shavuot, and back to Shabbat. The book concludes with descriptions of each of the holidays and a series of crafts and recipes. Newman’s prose is rhythmic through repetition and simplicity. Susan Gal’s vibrant and seasonally-charged illustrations give children a variety of people and objects to stimulate their interest.
The inclusion of Shabbat and the naming ceremony go beyond the normal expectations of the typical list of Jewish holidays. The layout is problematic, however. The sections are not of equal length and the placement of section separators bearing the labels of the holidays can be confusing. Still, young audiences and readers will find grace on these pages and pride in their heritage.
Recommended for ages 4 – 7.
Barbara Krasner is the author of many books across genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature. Her recent titles include 37 Days at Sea: Aboard the M.S. St. Louis, 1939, Civilian Casualties in War and Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems. Her book Goldie Takes a Stand! Golda Meir’s First Crusade was a recipient of the Sydney Taylor Honor Award. She holds a Ph.D. in Holocaust and genocide studies from Gratz College, teaches in the Holocaust and genocide studies program at the College of New Jersey, and serves as director of the Mercer County Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Center. She also holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.