Nelson uses the old spiritual—offered here, astonishingly, in its first singleton, illustrated edition, though it’s available in many collections—as a springboard to celebrate family togetherness. Each line of a four-verse version of the lyric captions an intimate scene of an African-American lad, three sibs (one, lighter-skinned, perhaps adopted) and two parents in various combinations, posing together in both city (San Francisco) and country settings, sharing “the moon and the stars,” “the wind and the clouds,” “the oceans and the seas,” and so on. Sandwiched between views of, more or less, the whole world, Nelson alternates finished paintings in his characteristic strong, bold style with authentically childlike crayon drawings done with his left hand—demonstrating a superb ability to evoke both grand and naïve effects. Moving, reverent, spiritual indeed. (musical arrangement to close) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2850-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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Heartwarming for Jewish collections and religious-school settings.


Award-winner Kimmel retells a Jewish fable of greed and generosity.

At Joseph’s weekly Sabbath table, all are welcomed—rich or poor, young or old. Joseph’s neighbor, Judah, also sets a bountiful table each week, but he prefers to invite only important people to his Sabbath meal; he gives his charity to the beggars in the street. Judah chastises Joseph for his excessive hospitality and correctly predicts that he will soon lose all his wealth. A foreboding dream warns Judah that he, too, might lose his fortune and that Joseph will one day count Judah’s money for himself. Judah, shaken, sells his property, buys a large ruby and leaves Tiberias by sea—and loses the jewel, the last of his wealth, in a strong storm. Returning to Tiberias, he approaches the always kind and benevolent Joseph for help. Joseph’s luck has once again changed with a fish he received at market: Cutting it open revealed the ruby Judah lost. As in Marilyn Hirsh’s Joseph Who Loved the Sabbath, illustrated by Devis Grebu (1986), Kimmel reconciles the differing attitudes through a conclusion about the importance of celebrating the Sabbath “with an open door and an open heart.” Blended shades of blues, purples and greens done in watercolor, pen and pastel illuminate the old Israeli scenes integral to the narration.

Heartwarming for Jewish collections and religious-school settings. (Picture book/religion. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5908-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A sweet original tale with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message (Picture book. 5-7)



A child’s innocent appreciation for life’s small wonders transforms a shopkeeper’s business attitude during the busy selling season of Hanukkah.

The owner of the small toyshop is immediately intrigued with the potential of a large profit if he can sell a peddler’s oversized, elaborately painted dreidel. Ignoring the peddler’s statement that “the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought,” the shopkeeper places the new dreidel prominently in the window, attracting the attention of a spoiled girl who demands her father buy it. But the dreidel will not spin for the girl, so she returns it for a refund the next day. An equally arrogant boy buys the dreidel and returns it for the same reason, leaving the shopkeeper mystified. Finally, a poor child enters the shop and lovingly admires the beautiful dreidel as a symbol of Hanukkah. When he is coaxed by the shopkeeper to spin it, the dreidel spins for several minutes, magically changing its letters as it falls to indicate a poignant message. The shopkeeper decides to gift the special dreidel to this poor but respectful boy. Simpson uses familiar European folk-tale motifs, which Bernhard matches with acrylic paintings of an Old World setting; both illustrate how humility outshines greed and arrogance. Backmatter explains the real miracle of Hanukkah and the holiday’s significance as well as rules for playing dreidel.

A sweet original tale with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937786281

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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