LILAH TOV GOOD NIGHT

As the sun sets and the moon rises, an unnamed young child says good night to everything in the natural landscape.

In the simple, brief, descriptive text the child calls out, “Lilah Tov,” to hens and roosters, bears and bats, beaches and waves, clouds and stars, fish and birds, mountains and streams. There is no other narrative, at least not in words. Naggan’s lush, detailed, soft-edged landscapes provide another, deeper, and more nuanced level to the proceedings. “Lilah tov” means “good night” in Hebrew, and there is a menorah on the windowsill, indicating that this family is Jewish. By dress and household appearance, they seem to be living in the late 19th or early 20th century. After a simple meal, they pack their belongings and leave their small rural home. The protagonist is saying good night to the creatures and places spotted on what readers will see as a lengthy journey. Beneath a full moon a man rows them across a body of water, and the journey continues on the other side. At the end of their travels there is a new home awaiting them. They travel quietly and surreptitiously, but there is no explanation within the text of where they are and why they leave. Are they refugees escaping something dreadful? Each young reader will interpret the work differently depending on individual understanding and knowledge of history, or perhaps with a wise adult to help.

Haunting and beautiful. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4066-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A simplified—if not simplistic—conversation starter.

SNOW FOR EVERYONE!

Three children argue about where the snow comes from and who it belongs to, learning that they can share and enjoy together.

One rare snowy day in Jerusalem, Samir, Mira, and Rafi are playing but fall to arguing over how to “divide up the precious snow.” They each decide to find out where it comes from and who owns it. Samir runs to the mosque to ask the imam; Mira goes to the church looking for the priest; and Rafi, to the synagogue to query the rabbi. Each child takes some snow with them only to discover when they reach their chosen authority that it has melted. The children’s squabble is clearly a metaphor for the conflicts that arise among the region’s different ethnic groups; Mira even draws a border. Schneider’s text mentions soldiers, traders, worshippers, pilgrims, and tourists but doesn’t delve into the region’s complexities. Using gold and blue tones, Chang portrays the many different people moving through the city and the clothes and carpets displayed in the market. An unattended, fedora-clad camel strikes an odd note. Controversially, the people appear to live in peaceful coexistence, but this is not an everyday reality in divided Jerusalem. The book does not supply context necessary for readers unfamiliar with the conflict to understand such details as Mira’s border or that a war over the territories has gone on for years.

A simplified—if not simplistic—conversation starter. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4320-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot.

NOAH GREEN SAVES THE WORLD

Jewish summer camp adventures get a little too goofy.

Budding director Noah is certain he’s on his way to film camp—after all, he’s been nagging his parents about it nonstop. But instead, he and his sister are shipped off to Camp Challah, where the socially awkward tween is not confident about making friends. Just before going away, Pops, Noah’s grandfather, tells him he needs Noah’s help saving the world. But the alter kocker is known for his bombastic pronouncements, so not even Noah takes him seriously until a carrier pigeon arrives with a note from Pops. Whatever anyone else expects—or doesn’t expect—of Noah, his real plan is to do what Pops says. Somehow he ends up making friends who go along for the ride, nonsensical and unclear though it is. The first half of the book takes a more realistic tone, with typical camp activities, and it’s not until halfway through that Pops reappears in the flesh to take Noah along. Not only is the pacing off, but it’s odd when the antagonist threatening the world turns out to be an asteroid—not what readers might expect from a grandfather who regularly claims to have been a secret agent during World War II. A supporting character described as part Navajo makes wartime Code Talkers less the undersung heroes they are and more another goofball plot addition.

Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot. (Mystery/adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6036-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more