Sam­my Spi­der’s First Bar Mitzvah

Sylvia Rouss, Illus­trat­ed by Kather­ine Janus Kahn
  • Review
By – March 23, 2017

Every­one’s favorite lit­tle spi­der is back with a new adven­ture and a new top­ic with which to edu­cate young read­ers and lis­ten­ers about Jew­ish life and cul­ture. This lat­est escapade lands him at Josh’s cous­in’s bar mitz­vah where he watch­es the pro­ceed­ings with great inter­est. He learns, as does the read­er, about the syn­a­gogue rit­u­als, both reli­gious, such as the Torah read­ing, and fun, such as toss­ing can­dy in the direc­tion of the bar mitz­vah cel­e­brant. As many very young chil­dren have nev­er seen a bar mitz­vah up close, this is a good top­ic for the age group. As usu­al, Sam­my flirts with dan­ger but is saved before dis­as­ter strikes and he returns at the end to his moth­er and his web to pre­pare (we hope) for fur­ther adventures.

This is the sev­en­teenth book in the by now icon­ic series fea­tur­ing endear­ing Sam­my, his wise moth­er and the tra­di­tion­al Shapiro fam­i­ly. Kather­ine Janus Kah­n’s bright, bold, cheery pic­tures evoke smiles and com­bine with Sylvia Rouss’ clever plots and clear to-the-point sto­ry-telling to meld into excel­lent pic­ture book uni­ty. The read­er knows what to expect, can chant famil­iar lines, and is nev­er dis­ap­point­ed but always comes away learn­ing some­thing new.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 5 – 8.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions