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Rivka's First Thanksgiving Paperback


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689841051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689841057
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 8.4 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,688,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After learning about Thanksgiving in school in the 1910s, nine-year-old Rivka succeeds in persuading her immigrant family and her rabbi that it is a holiday for all Americans even Jewish families. Rivka's case to her rabbi (and six of his peers) is impassioned, although some readers may have trouble believing that none of these learned men has heard of the holiday. Kovalski (Queen Nadine) is at her best with scenes of the Lower East Side's bustling streets, but her cartoonish illustrations often clash with Rael's (What Zeesie Saw on Delancy Street) moving message. Ages 5-9.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Gr 1-3-After learning about Thanksgiving at school, Rivka tries to persuade her Jewish immigrant family to observe this quintessential American holiday. But their resistance to participating in a "Gentile" celebration leads the nine-year-old to confront the family's rabbi with a letter pointing out the similarities between the Pilgrims and the Jews in escaping religious persecution. While the theme of an immigrant child trying to bridge the gap between her new life in America and the traditions of her family is one that endures, this book fails to convey the cultural importance of Thanksgiving, not to mention the vibrant life of Jewish immigrants on New York's Lower East Side in the 1910s. Based on a story passed down through the author's family, the text is wordy and presupposes too much knowledge about Jewish immigrants. The pencil-and-acrylic illustrations are cloyingly sweet and merely average in quality. On some pages, Rivka appears to be a much younger child, which contradicts her precocious challenge to the esteemed rabbi. An additional title at best.

Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Gardner on December 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The recent political atmosphere makes this book even more profoundly important. Children see the need and are starving to understand each other's cultures. I read it to my 11-yr and 13-yr. Puerto Rican - American born niece & nephew a couple of days before Thanksgiving, wondering if they'd be too old & too sophisticated to enjoy it, (they are Harry Potter fans.) This book both empowered them and satisfied their need to more fully understand how children from a different culture (Jewish) relate to "Thanksgiving." It 's apparent that we've gotton away from the roots of this American holiday and that "Thanksgiving" had never clicked in their heads. It helped them to understand why people from other countries still come to America today. My "kids" strongly identifed with "Rivka's" courage to stand up for her own point of view . They were thoroughy engaged in the story and loved the illustrations-and so did I. J. Gardner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rachel L. Solomin on November 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Rivka's First Thanksgiving explains in moving detail why Jews have special reasons to be thankful for the freedom and safety we have found in the U.S. Parents and teachers should review the Yiddish vocabulary (found in a glossary in the back) before reading to children. I recommend this book for classroom reading and discussions at home, with an ideal audience of 4th through 6th graders. Younger children will have difficulty with the wordy text and the mentions of disturbing events (like pogroms) from Jewish history. It also depicts some aspects of traditional Jewish life (such as a rebbetzin who covers her hair with a wig and batei-dinin--rabbinic courts) with which many children will be unfamiliar. I have had particular success with this book in discussing with my 6th-grade students (who still get excited by a good picture book) how Thanksgiving is unlike other "American" holidays (like New Year's, Halloween, etc.) and merits Jewish communal celebrations as well as celebrations at home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Simon on November 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In rich and spirited prose, accompanied by warmly rendered illustrations, Rivka's First Thanksgiving captures the texture and cadence of early 20th century Jewish immigrant life in New York City. The story teaches children the importance of old traditions, as well as the necessity for creating new ones. The reader can almost smell the turkey -- and the challah!
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By Shirley S on November 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I borrowed this book to read aloud to my child. I didn't think it would affect me as deeply as it did.

This is the story of Rivka, a small Jewish girl in the tenements of New York who wants to celebrate Thanksgiving. Her gramma says they have to check with the rabbi, who doesn't think Jewish people should celebrate the holiday. Rivka writes him a letter, saying Jewish people should celebrate more than anyone else, because the Pilgrims fought religious persecution, just like the Jews. She is ashamed immediately of the boldness of her letter, but finds out sometimes you have to be bold to get what you want.

This is such an original idea for a story and so well-executed, through lovely pictures, and Rivka's powerful words and actions. She reminds us that the importance of Thanksgiving is not the food, but the fact that everyone in the US is lucky and we all have something to be thankful for. Sometimes the simplest truth comes from the youngest mouths.

My only word of caution is that this is not a book for small children, because it does mention the pogroms and we find out the mother was beaten and does not remember anything before the age of 12, and that might be a little hard for a small child to understand positively, but a slightly older child (I would say 7-9) might be OK with it. The writing isn't so simple that an older child would be bored--I'm 36 and it kept my attention. The book includes a glossary of terms for those not familiar with Yiddish, which is really helpful for those of us who are not Jewish.

I would recommend this book in a heartbeat to anyone who needs a little different take on Thanksgiving.
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