GITTEL'S HANDS

Elijah makes a miraculous appearance in this Passover tale of a boastful father and his wise and compassionate daughter, Gittel. To pay a debt, Yakov makes exaggerated guarantees of Gittel's handiwork and loses his means for earning a living. Gittel's kindness toward a trapped dove, a starving cat, and a shivering beggar earn the intervention of the prophet Elijah, who provides her with the tools and skill to make exquisite silver goods for the Passover seder, ensuring a fine livelihood for her and her chastened father. Silverman (Fixing the Crack of Dawn, 1994, etc.) renders Gittel's story in the manner of a folktale, burnished with motifs from the Rumpelstiltskin story. Lattimore, taking her cue from Chagall, creates scenes alight with the rhythms and colors of stained glass, where pink doves and green cats mingle with the floating figures and dancing houses of a snowbound shtetl. Readers familiar with Passover traditions will love the story most; others will find the glossary a useful page for learning more. (Picture book/folklore. 7+)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8167-3798-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Years before he died, Jeremy Fink’s father prepared a box containing “the meaning of life” for his son to open on his 13th birthday. When Jeremy receives the box a few months before that momentous day, the keys are missing, and it’s up to him and his best friend Lizzy to find a way into the box. The search for the keys—or, failing the keys, the meaning of life itself—takes the two throughout New York City and into a spot of trouble, which lands them a very unusual community-service sentence: They must return treasures to the children, now grown, who pawned them long ago. This device brings Jeremy and Lizzy—both originals to the core—into contact with a calculated variety of characters, all of whom have their own unique angles on the meaning of life. Mass spins a leisurely tale that’s occasionally Konigsburg-esque, carefully constructed to give narrator Jeremy ample time to reflect on his encounters. It may be a subplot or two in need of a trim, and the resolution will surprise nobody but Jeremy, but agreeable on the whole. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-05829-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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