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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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents...

THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU

God’s address to the Hebrew exiles from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah is repurposed in this cheery picture book that emphasizes children’s future careers.

In this decontextualized interpretation of the well-known verse, God narrates the text in a first-person, chatty style (“Hey, YOU!”) that urges children to discover their particular purposes in life, specifically related to career choices (“what I CREATED YOU to do”). The story begins with a fantastical factory in the clouds, controlled by engineers, and the disembodied hand of God pointing at readers. A sort of assembly line with seated, staring children scrolls across the bottoms of the pages, with the boys and girls receiving their professional wardrobes from robotic arms. Above the conveyor belt, smiling children are shown in various jobs wearing relevant career attire, with careful inclusion of children of many ethnicities as well as girls in science, medical, and construction jobs. While the text states that children will “find that one thing / that you love the most,” its overall thrust when combined with the illustrations implies that God chooses a profession for each child at birth and that children should be working toward that profession from an early age. The concluding page urges children to stop reading the book and “go out and find my big plans for YOU.” Readers with unemployed parents or parents toiling in miserable, unhappy jobs will be forgiven for wondering just where in God’s plan their families fit.

With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents and personalities. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-72410-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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