Rabbi Alyson Solomon teaches several gentle, but vital, lessons in this colorful picture book about appreciation and gratitude.
A group of happy, healthy children frolic outdoors, aware that life is wonderful because their bodies perform so many essential functions enabling their daily well-being. Their feet and legs enable them to jump and play; their hips and waists enable them to dance; each body part is addressed with respect and wonder for all it does so well. They are aware, as well, that their internal organs play an important role in their lives. They are grateful for breath, for a heartbeat, for bones that provide needed support. Each element deserves love and respect for the part it plays in consonance with the others. Faces are especially noted for the many “doors” they contain which open the senses to the world as well as for the mouth that “sings out” in song and prayer. The phrase Modeh Ani, a phrase of thanks to God, is emphasized, reminding the children of the source of all their blessings.
An author’s note explains that the book was inspired by two beautiful, foundational, daily prayers that are said upon awakening each morning: Modeh Ani, which thanks God for our return to consciousness after hours of sleep, and Asher Yatzar, which thanks God for the functioning of our intricate bodies and reminds us of their complex and wondrous power.
The illustrations are done with insight and with thoughtful attention to the overall message. They show a multicultural group of children reminding the reader, among other lessons, that these basic, Jewish concepts are universal for all humankind. Various head coverings, including kippot, are included, and one child in a wheelchair appreciates her own abilities along with all the other children.
Excellent for reading aloud in either a classroom or at home, this lovely book delivers important messages in a light and joyful way.
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.