Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Melody tells a beautiful, layered story

The Melody, by Oded Burla/Illustrated by Assaf Benharroch/Translated by Ilana Kurshan, (March 2022, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087559

Ages 4-8

First published in Hebrew in 1996, this lovely layered tale spins dual stories: a melody seeking an audience, and the story of the Torah. A melody comes into existence and seeks someone to listen to them. Offering to share its song with the mountains and trees, stones, the river, and animals to listen, Melody is turned down time and again: the trees have their own song they share among themselves; the rocks cannot sing; the animals, all set in their own ways. But Melody discovers a mother and child in a garden together and enters the mother’s heart. The mother begins singing a lullaby to the child, and the song is Melody. An inspirational story about love, the story is also an ancient Jewish fable about God offering the Torah to the peoples of the ancient world. When the Jewish people were the only ones to accept the Torah, the song became theirs; like the mother and child, the song is passed to each generation. Digital artwork comes alive with rich color and texture, and a fluid narrative assures that readers will return to this book often. A lovely addition to collections, particularly where Jewish culture and themes are of interest.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two Books to Read This Shabbat

Kalaniot Books has been putting out some great books representing Jewish culture. I’ve been reading them, enjoying them, and sharing them with my library kids. Here are two to take home to read this Shabbat.

The Candy Man Mystery, by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky/Illustrated by Christina Mattison Ebert, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-2-8

Ages 4-8

Josh and Becky enjoy going to synagogue, and Mr. Sharansky – The Candy Man – makes it even more special, handing out candy after services every week! When Mr. Sharansky isn’t at Temple Shalom this week, Josh and Becky are worried and determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. When they find Mr. Sharansky, it’s a sweet reunion in every way. A touching story of faith and multigenerational friendship, The Candy Man Mystery is a great readaloud on empathy and sharing. Josh and Becky connect with members of their synagogue community, and we learn something about everyone they come into contact with, including a child learning a prayer in American Sign Language (ASL), so he can say them with his mother, who is deaf. The congregation is invested in one another, and the Rabbi is a warm figure who respects children and adults alike. Back matter includes a word on the Shema, a glossary, and how to use ASL to sign the Shema. A lovely addition to Jewish culture and empathy-focused collections.

Visit Kalaniot’s webpage to download a free educator’s guide for The Candy Man Mystery.

 

The Rabbi and the Painter, by Shoshana Weiss/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-8-2

Ages 5-8

Based on the true story of the relationship between 16th-Century Venetian painter Tintoretto (also known as “Il Furioso”) and Rabbi Leon Modena (also known as Yahuda Araya), formed when the Rabbi was a boy who found a clay doll the painter used as a model. The Rabbi became fluent in both Italian and Hebrew, helping the Venetian government draft contracts in Hebrew as needed and eventually helping Tintoretto with one of his famous pieces, The Last Supper. The story explores the friendship between the two men while focusing on their individual talents, resulting in a story about how blending cultures can lead to great things. Back matter includes historical notes and further resources. Illustrations are engaging and focus on collaboration and creativity. A smart addition to historical picture books.

Download a free educator guide at Kalaniot’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Not So Fast, Max! is all about patience and preparing for Rosh Hashanah

Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma, by Annette Schottenfeld/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (March 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087511

Ages 4-8

Max and his sister Emily are so excited: their Savta (grandma) is visiting from Israel, in time for Rosh Hashanah! Max can’t wait to make caramel apples, but Savta has a fun day planned first. She takes Max and Emily apple picking, and while Emily enjoys every moment, Max is so impatient! He wants his caramel apples! Savta’s quiet patience wins out, though, and Max discovers how much fun a beautiful fall day with Savta can be. She juggles, she can play ball, and she tells stories about her safta when she was a little girl! At the end of the day, they head home and it’s time to make those apples. Looks like Max’s patience has paid off after all! A gentle Rosh Hashanah story about the new year, Not So Fast, Max teaches readers about the beauty of traditions and celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchildren. Facts about Rosh Hashanah, a glossary of Hebrew words, and tasty recipes for Savta’s Apple Cake and Max’s Caramel Apples make up the back matter. Endpapers feature decorative fall leaves and crisp red apples, bringing to mind the Fall season and the sweetness of the holiday. A lovely story and a lovely addition to your collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Shine a spotlight on Sarah’s Solo

Sarah’s Solo, by Tracy Brown/Illustrated by Paula Wegman, (March 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087504

Ages 4-7

Sarah is a little girl who’s very disappointed: she must miss her dance recital – where she was going to have a solo! – in order to attend her cousin’s wedding. Sarah dons her recital dress and squirms through the ceremony, but she can’t sit still and pout for long: as she watches the wedding guests dance the hora, she finds her toes tapping to the beat; when her cousin draws Sarah into the circle, the two dance together and Sarah finds herself getting lost in the music: she’s danced her solo after all!

One of the first new releases from Endless Mountain Publishing’s imprint, Kalaniot Books, Sarah’s Solo is a celebration of Jewish culture in one of the happiest settings: a wedding! Kids will empathize with Sarah’s plight: how many times have we made our Kiddos miss out on something they want to do because a family gathering takes precedence? Even watching the other guests dance doesn’t appeal to Sarah at first: the hora is nothing like her elegant ballet routine, after all, but sooner or later, that catchy beat and the good spirits all around her sneak in. She starts tapping her toes, and you just know she’s bopping in her seat. The fun artwork is colorful and shows a diverse crowd enjoying a joyous celebration. The author and illustrator invite readers to enjoy a moment in Jewish culture with a spread illustrating the movements that make up the hora accompanying an explanation of the dance within the context of the story; a spread showing the bride and groom hoisted up on chairs colors everyone except, the bride, groom, and Sarah bathed in shades of background reds, letting Sarah and her cousins be the stars of the spread; something that continues as Lizzy, Sarah’s cousin, invites Sarah to dance with her and allowing Sarah to perform her solo for us, the readers, as well as the wedding guests. Back matter explains Jewish wedding traditions, connecting vocabulary to moments in the story. Blue and white endpapers are a series of line drawings, filled with menorahs, Stars of David, Hands of God, flowers, cups, and musical instruments. Sarah’s Solo is a story to inspire joy.