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February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
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Titles for Children

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Admit it; when Chanukah comes we all become kids again. But still, the actual kids get pride of place on this holiday, as they do for all holidays. Anyway, they’ll certainly be the ones clamoring for gifts. Whether it’s for your children, or relatives’ or friends’, why not treat them to the gift of a good book?

 

My Grandma Lives in Florida (by Ed Shankman, illustrated by Dave O’Neill; Applewood Books; 32 pages; $14.95) is a treasure. A fantastic children’s book set to detailed and sophisticated (and occasionally wild) verse in the best Seussian tradition.

Here’s a sample, in the middle of a riff on the wonderful Floridian sun:

“It shines on every manatee/From Tampa Bay to Longboat Key,/And every bass and ballyhoo,/And on the barracudas too.”

And:

“The next week or so, we are busy as bees/Seeing all of the sights that a sightseer sees./ If you like seeing sights, I am begging you please,/You must make your way down here and see some of these.”

The book is a sweet and engaging tale of the long-distance grandmother/grandson relationship from a child’s perspective – as good as anything put out these days for the 2-6 set.

* * * * *

Kar-Ben has several enjoyable newly-published choices.

Kids will enjoy the simple-to-follow and easy pictures in the board book Eight Is Great (by Tilda Balsley; illustrated by Hideko Takahashi; 12 pages; $5.95).

Sammy Spider’s First Book of Jewish Holiday (by Sylvia A. Rouss, illustrated by Katharine Janus Kahn; 12 pages, $5.95), another cute board book for the toddlers on your gift list, is greatly enhanced by Katherine Janus Kahn’s esoteric paper-cut illustrations.

Sadies’s Almost Marvelous Menorah (by Jamie Korngold, illustrated by Julie Fortenberry; 24 pages; $7.95) is a delightful tale that can be used as both a primer about Chanukah and a lesson in resilience (appropriate for the holiday), as the schoolgirl Sadie (a throwback name, if ever there was one) learns to persevere after her school-made menorah breaks.

ABC Hanukkah Hunt (by Tilda Balsley, illustrated by Helen Poole; 32 pages; $7.95) works as an easy going holiday-themed alphabet book.

And Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster (by Jane Sutton; illustrated by Andy Rowland; 32 pages; $7.95) is filled with witty puns that will entertain adults and kids alike, as Esther (the Gorilla, of course) tries to find the perfect gift.

* * * * *

Dirty Tzitzit, Shiny Neshama (by Tsivya Fox, illustrated by Tanya Leontyeva, 24 pages) is a very sweet book. Though it wears its moral on its (dirty) sleeves – and in the title – the book is still a pleasure, a zippy read with clear illustrations.

* * * * *

Everyone knows what a mitzvah note is. From the day they start to attend school or playgroup, boys and girls are encouraged to bring in mitzvah notes. More than just reporting what good deeds a child has done, mitzvah notes demonstrate that the values being taught at school are being lived and practiced at home.

Meet Benny, a boy whose mitzvah notes are extra special. His mother writes them, his father draws a picture on each one, and his teacher gives him an album in which to treasure them! Benny’s Mitzvah Notes (by Marc Lumer; Hachai Publishing; 28 pages; $12.95) tells of Benny’s efforts to earn those notes each day, his successes, his occasional mistakes, and how mitzvos shape his childhood. Engaging illustrations cleverly capture the passage of time, and children will love the surprise at the very end.

Beautifully written and illustrated by Lumer, father of five-year-old Benny and the author and illustrator of many mitzvah notes, this book captures something precious and profound about the way we impart our Torah way of life to our children.

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