The tale of a challah-baking Jewish giant, by one of the country’s most prominent children’s book writers, is among a crop of delightful new books for kids published just in time for the holidays. Here’s a look at three of them.
Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale
By Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by Jim Starr; Apples & Honey Press; ages 3-8
Samson the Giant, known as “Big Sam” to his friends, sets out to make a giant round challah in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Big Sam begins by digging a big hole — the Grand Canyon — to use as a mixing bowl. Step by massive step, Big Sam crisscrosses the U.S., filling his bowl with a mountain of flour, a lake of oil, thousands of eggs and more. For water, he dams up the Colorado River and then whittles a giant California redwood into a spoon for stirring.
But before he can celebrate the holiday, two bald eagles caution the giant that he’s caused an awful lot of damage to the environment — flattening hills and threatening habitats. In the spirit of the holiday, Big Sam considers his misdeeds and sets about to make things right. When he’s finally ready to dig in to the huge challah, Big Sam welcomes in Rosh Hashanah with his American tall-tale pals — Paul Bunyan and Slue Foot Sue among them.
Moti the Mitzvah Mouse
By Vivian Newman; illustrated by Inga Knopp-Kilpert Kar-Ben; ages 2-5
Moti, a busy little mouse with a big heart, lives under the sink at the Bermans’ house. When the Berman kids — and the family cat — are asleep, Moti secretly wanders the house finding ways to be helpful. Each page finds Moti doing a mitzvah: He feeds the fish, he puts away misplaced toys, he collects loose coins left around and puts them in the tzedakah box.
Lively illustrations make this an engaging, interactive read that kids will want to read again and again.
It Only Takes a Minute
By Bracha Goetz; illustrated by Bill Bolton; Hachai Publishing; ages 2-5
A young boy in a haredi Orthodox family discovers that small acts of kindness can make a big difference — when he remembers to do them, of course. Throughout the book, the boy learns “it only takes a minute” to do good deeds, such as saying “thank you” or to thoughtfully say a bracha even when he is rushing for the school bus. At a soccer game, he takes a minute to appreciate the nature around him.