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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Reviewing “Sukkot Is Coming!” by Tracy Newman, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., Minneapolis, MN. Hardcover, 12 pages, 2017. ISBN 978-1-5124-0828-7.

Reviewing “The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever” by Laya Steinberg, illustrated by Colleen Madden. Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., Minneapolis, MN. Paperback, 32 pages, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5124-0865-2.

Kar-Ben Publishing has several new releases for young audiences to learn about Sukkot. For preschoolers, Tracy Newman’s rhyming board book “Sukkot Is Coming!,” a new addition to the Very First Board Books collection, is the perfect way to introduce the youngest of children to the holiday. With rhyming verses set against Viviana Garofoli’s colorful, canvas-textured artwork, the book is sure to delight preschool-age children. Each page shows a different way to prepare for the holiday, such as building the Sukkah after Yom Kippur, waving the lulav and etrog and inviting guests for a meal. The story is pleasantly simple, describing the ways to celebrate Sukkot and subtly encouraging children to help their families prepare. The sixth entry in Newman’s Jewish holiday series of board books, which also features “Shabbat Is Coming!” and “Rosh Hashanah Is Coming!,” shows Newman’s skill in inspiring Jewish youth to get excited about the holidays. The simple language and cheerful illustrations together make “Sukkot Is Coming!” an age-appropriate lead-in to the holiday.

For children who are a few years older, Kar-Ben offers a more complex Sukkot story to interest and inspire. Laya Steinberg’s “The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever” tells the story of Micah’s search to find the perfect pumpkin for Sukkot. Set against a background of colorful, autumnal-themed illustrations by Colleen Madden, readers will learn along with Micah about the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, repairing the world. On a synagogue trip to the pumpkin patch, Micah learns from Farmer Jared that by volunteering to pick pumpkins, he is helping a soup kitchen provide for the needy. Micah, who wants to do good, has some tough decisions to make: Will he keep the best pumpkins for his sukkah, or donate them to the soup kitchen? Steinberg’s story, aimed at preschoolers through third graders, will allow readers to learn about the concept of finding joy through helping others. There are also additional pages after the story that explain what the holiday of Sukkot is and suggest tikkun olam activities for families to do together. “The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever” will encourage young readers to find their own ways to help others during the holidays, all while having fun.

By Ariella Shua

Ariella Shua is a graduate of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School and the Nativ Program in Israel. She is a freshman at Johns Hopkins University and was a Jewish Link summer intern.