Purists may be puzzled at first, but readers will find themselves loving these Chelmites.

RIGHT SIDE UP

ADVENTURES IN CHELM

This book of folktales has a message, and it may not be inspirational: Anyone can be a Chelmite.

Many people know the origin story of Chelm. As Kimmel puts it: “God called the angels and said to them, ‘Take these sacks and spread the souls [inside] throughout the world.’ ” But a sack of fools tore open in transit, and they all landed in the same village. Kimmel’s Chelmites are a very diverse group. He writes: “Some readers may be surprised to encounter a woman rabbi and people of color in a Chelm story. That would have been highly unusual in Eastern Europe of the time, and the original Chelm stories reflected their time. So should ours.” Brown’s drawings make the wide variety of characters instantly lovable in just a few lines. The author embellishes the stories in ways that might startle people familiar with more-traditional versions. These Chelmites tore the sack themselves, clamoring to see where they were going. Some passages appear to be brand new. The Chelmites say morning prayers at all times of day or night, in case they get snowed in at daybreak. This leads the rabbi to make a truly lovely speech: “God always hears our prayers, no matter when we say them. And the beautiful snow is a blessing from Heaven, so why not enjoy it?”

Purists may be puzzled at first, but readers will find themselves loving these Chelmites. (Folktales. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68115-548-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement.

HANUKKAH BEAR

A well-used trope of misidentification allows a village elder to innocently open her home to a possible predator with humorous, even endearing results.

Despite her advanced age of 97 and her poor eyesight and hearing, Bubba Brayna “still [makes] the best potato latkes in the village.” When Old Bear is awakened from his winter sleep by the savory aroma of frying latkes and comes to her door, Bubba Brayna invites him in for a fresh batch, mistaking the bear’s rotund girth and bushy face for the heavy-set bearded rabbi’s. Heading straight for the kitchen, the growling bear is encouraged to play dreidel with nuts he chooses to eat, then devours all the latkes with jam like any hungry bear would. Sleepy and satisfied, he leaves with a gift of a red woolen scarf around his neck. After some investigating by the crowd that has gathered at Bubba Brayna’s door, which includes the actual rabbi, a new batch of potatoes are brought from the cellar, and with everyone’s help, Bubba Brayna hosts a happy Hanukkah. This newly illustrated version of The Chanukkah Guest, illustrated by Giora Carmi (1990), is a softer rendition, with acrylic paints and curved lines in tints of yellow, brown and green for warm, earthy atmosphere.

The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2855-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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