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Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher Hardcover – August 24, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2–Baxter desperately wants to experience Shabbat dinner, the special Friday-night meal that ushers in the Jewish day of rest. He wants to see for himself how “the candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song.” When he learns that pork is a forbidden food according to Jewish law, he stuffs his face with kosher pickles and raisin challah, hoping to become kosher. He even tries, unsuccessfully, to become a cow. Finally, an encounter with a kind rabbi sets him straight. She explains that while he's not kosher to eat, never will be, and really wouldn't want to be, everyone is welcome at Shabbat dinner. Baxter enjoys a marvelous evening with the rabbi, pigging out on kugel, a Jewish casserole dish, and realizing that it is much better to be a guest than an item on the menu. The delightfully expressive and comical pen-and-ink illustrations are digitally enhanced with photographs of storefronts, deli counters, pickle jars, and traditional Jewish foods. While animals celebrating Shabbat isn't new–think Sylvia A. Rouss's Sammy Spider's First Shabbat (1998), Diane Rauchwerger's Dinosaur on Shabbat (2006), and Jacqueline Jules's Once Upon a Shabbos (1999, all Kar-Ben)–the idea of a pig wanting to become kosher will entertain children and the adults reading to them, especially those familiar with Jewish traditions.Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2010:
"Snyder and Goldin go together like matzo balls and chicken soup: the bright, daffy prose and ebulliently goofy cartoon and photo collages will persuade readers that they don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Baxter's spiritual journey—which ends, happily enough, at the Shabbat table of a kindly rabbi. Yes, of course he's a guest. What did you think?"

Review, School Library Journal, August 1, 2010:
"Delightfully expressive and comical..."

Review, The Horn Book Magazine, September & October, 2010:
"In-the-know readers will be tickled pink by mensch Baxter...while the uninitiated will quickly catch on."

Review, Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2010:
"This will...find plenty of use in Jewish homes, particularly among families in which one parent is not Jewish."

Review, Curled Up With A Good Kid's Book (site), December 2010:
"The smart dialogue ... effortlessly educates readers about the Jewish holiday called Shabbat right alongside an adorable pig who shares the same goal ... charming story with equally charming illustrations ..."
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press; First Printing edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582463158
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582463155
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.4 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I initially purchased this book for my 3 year old son. His grandparents come from a variety of religious backgrounds - Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, but all of them can appreciate this story about taking the time to find joy with family and friends... even new friends or unlikely ones. The story is one part religious education, one part life lesson and 2 parts poking clever fun. I have since purchased it a number of times for the rest of our crew.
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Format: Hardcover
Baxter the pig hears from a man at his bus stop about how wonderful Shabbat is, and that when it starts at sundown, "The candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song." In humorous attempts, he tries to become kosher so that he can attend one of these dinners. He eats lots of pickles, and an enormous amount of challah, but he is told that he has not succeeded in becoming kosher. Then he meets a rabbi, who shows him where it is written in Hebrew in her book that it is a mitzvah to invite strangers to Shabbat dinner, and that he, definitely strange, is welcome at her dinner that evening. Kids will enjoy David Goldin's cartoon-like illustrations, done in pen, ink and collage with digital enhancement. His pickle-covered end papers are great fun, and writing "Laurel's Bakery" on a neighborhood bakery is a clever touch. The book imparts the positive message that everyone, even a pig, is welcome for Shabbat. In the glossary, Laurel Snyder has defined many of the terms used in the story. After she writes that kosher is "food that meets traditional biblical standards for Jewish munching," with "one important rule that you can't mix milk and meat together- no cheeseburgers," she then writes: "a lot of these rules just tell you not to eat certain icky animals you wouldn't want to eat anyway. For instance, no fried vultures. And no roasted rats!" Although these humorously tie in with the pig theme, many readers who do not know what is involved in keeping kosher may find this confusing. The story would have benefited from a further explanation clarifying the concept of eating kosher food, in this otherwise cleverly illustrated and amusing book with a positive message. Pre-school - grade 2. Andrea Davidson
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Format: Hardcover
This is such a winsome book. The illustrations are cheerful and interesting; I think children will be mesmerized by them. I love children's books even though I don't have kids of my own, but if I did, I would make sure it was in their library. The story has a very positive message about including everyone in your religious traditions whether they're official members or not. Laurel Snyder is an excellent writer and this fits nicely with her other books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a charming and funny story. Believe it or not, I used it to introduce the concept of kosher to my hebrew school class and they loved it. There aren't enough contemporary Jewish picture books that are really good. Give this, add it to your library and share it with everyone. It's a hoot!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My kindergartener and preschooler love it all the same though. We probably read it at least once a week. Child appropriate humor, but you dont' actualy learn too much about shabbat or kosher rules. More a cute story for kids who already understand that.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not going to recap the plot of this story because other reviewers did that so well. I'm just going to say that I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It looked fun and appealing, and I was looking forward to teaching my kids about Jewish customs such as the Passover and kosher foods. We are pretty well-versed in Jewish history already.

But this book only confused them. I think my third grader understood it, and the running joke throughout, but none of them understood "kosher" any better when they were through. My littler kids, for whom I think the book was intended for, were definitely confused. They didn't follow the twist of logic about the pig trying to become kosher versus him just showing up as a guest at the meal. They were actually really sad as they watched the pig go through all his ideas to become kosher only to find out that nothing worked =)

I don't know, maybe we had an unusual experience with the book, but even I felt like some logical steps to the story were missing. I felt like I was missing part of the narrative somewhere which explained the kosher laws and tied things together for me. Sorry, but I can't recommend. The Kar-Ben publishers do a much better job of educating a kid about basic Jewish concepts or stories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fun book with a great story for kids. We got this book when my daughter was questioning about why we don't eat pork etc. This was a good story for her to see a fun perspective and relate to the pig. I think she was 6 when we first got it and is now 8 and still enjoys it.
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Format: Hardcover
My Take
It's cute with a nice introduction for children to the Jewish religion and Shabbat. The means of discussion uses kosher food with poor Baxter as the comic relief not knowing he doesn't want to be kosher.

The illustrations were a mixed lot. Incredibly simple line drawings with a scattering of shadow and no shading mixed with photographs of real food. Interesting combination.

The Story
A chance encounter with an old man finds Baxter wanting to be kosher so he too can enjoy Shabbat. And we follow him as he does everything he can think of to become acceptable. It isn't until he meets Rabbi Rosen that the true meaning of kosher is explained along with an invite to share Shabbat.

The Cover
It's a bland background which really causes Baxter to stand out as he skips down the sidewalk in his denim shorts and blue-checked shirt.

The title is accurate for Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher is trying really hard.
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