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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterous Guests
Brothers Eben and Ezra are as different as can be. While Ezra is kind and generous, Eben is cold and greedy. Sukkot arrives and Ezra, who has little money to spare, lovingly builds his sukkah from old boards and overripe fruit. Everyone is welcome and his sukkah is filled with joyous song. Eben's sukkah stands proud and glorious filled with the best things money can buy...
Published on June 26, 2009 by Jewish Book World Magazine

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clear moral, but no mystery
I was excited to find this lovely book from Eric Kimmel and Katya Krenina in the Jewish section of our local library, and checked it out right away even though it was weeks before Sukkot. It's a fairly simple tale of two brothers with different attitudes towards guests, and the kids I read it to, from 4 and up, were able to grasp the concepts immediately.

The...
Published on October 7, 2009 by Jay3fer


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clear moral, but no mystery, October 7, 2009
This review is from: The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story (Hardcover)
I was excited to find this lovely book from Eric Kimmel and Katya Krenina in the Jewish section of our local library, and checked it out right away even though it was weeks before Sukkot. It's a fairly simple tale of two brothers with different attitudes towards guests, and the kids I read it to, from 4 and up, were able to grasp the concepts immediately.

The illustrations are vivid, featuring lush, dramatic colours which clearly indicate the story's straightforward moral message: one's sukkah, and indeed, one's home, should be open to all guests, no matter how humble. Yet, despite the amount of care that obviously went into this book, I found myself disliking the story, and after a couple of reads, the kids no longer requested it either.

For one thing, and it's a biggie, the guests are not actually mysterious. Their blessing, and curse, are pretty darned obvious, when you think about it. There is no secret - at least from the reader's perspective - about their identity, and therefore, there is no suspense about what's going to happen. If the patriarchs see someone welcoming guests, they bless him. If they see someone scorning those who are poor, they curse him.

My kids, probably any kids, would have been surprised to see any other outcome, but that particular one is not at all mysterious (at least in the sense I was expecting). If the author had held back revealing the identity of the guests, it could have become a more typical "Elijah" type story (wherein a mysterious guest is revealed at the end to wield great powers), but he chose to play that hand immediately and thus lose the element of surprise.

As the story stands, the good brother has good things happen, the wicked brother mends his ways, and everybody lives happily ever after without a great deal of struggle. Not a bad thing, but not my favourite type of storytelling.

This is a nice, straightforward book to introduce the concept of hospitality around the theme of the holiday of Sukkot. It can be used with almost any age between 4 and 12, but you will probably find that kids don't delight in it or come back to it again and again.

Like me, you may find yourself wishing for just a bit more mystery.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterous Guests, June 26, 2009
This review is from: The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story (Hardcover)
Brothers Eben and Ezra are as different as can be. While Ezra is kind and generous, Eben is cold and greedy. Sukkot arrives and Ezra, who has little money to spare, lovingly builds his sukkah from old boards and overripe fruit. Everyone is welcome and his sukkah is filled with joyous song. Eben's sukkah stands proud and glorious filled with the best things money can buy. Only the rich eat in Eban's sukkah. One night Abraham, Isaac and Jacob descend from heaven to begin their annual visit to the worlds' sukkot. They are welcomed into Ezra's sukkah and invited to share what little food there is. At Eben's sukkah they are forced to stand in the corner until his guests have finished their meal, then offered leftover scraps. As the mysterious guests depart, they leave behind a blessing for each brother that match the reception they were given. Eric Kimmel had done an excellent job of spinning this Sukkot tale. Based around the tradition that our forefathers are invited into the sukkah each year, Kimmel has woven in the powerful message that it is not outward beauty, but heartfelt generosity that brings blessings of goodness to the home. Accentuated by Katya Krenina's beautiful, dreamlike illustrations, The Mysterious Guests will become a treasured part of any child's library. Recommended for ages 6-10. Marcia Berneger
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sukkot Story Worth Retelling, October 26, 2013
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While the underlying message of this story is valuable, some secular teachers may shy away from using a book that has a few generic references to the Bible. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob mysteriously appear as guests at each sukkah. This story focuses on how these men are treated in two contrasting situations and their response. In one location, the host provides a lavishly appointed sukkah with endless food options while the other is more modest. There was no shortage of food in the first scenario, but the host was not gracious and did not show any kindness to the poor. The owner of the second sukkah made everyone feel welcome and did his best to share his limited amount of food with all who came. Not surprising, the three biblical patriarchs rewarded the generous person and the other learned a lesson from his misbehavior.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Sukkot Story, October 12, 2011
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This review is from: The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story (Hardcover)
We just ordered and read this story, twice in 20 minutes, to our 8-year olds. The illustrations are lush and enchanting. There is a great message in the story ... Kimmel has done it again, taking traditional tales and making them accessible without talking down to our young people. We are delighted on this the 1st night of Sukkot, to add this to our library for many years to come.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story for children, October 12, 2012
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Judy Teacher (Massachusetts USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story (Hardcover)
The book was brand new--even had a dust jacket. My k-1-2 students loved the story--a different look at Sukkot.

I would buy again from these vendors.
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The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story
The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story by Eric A. Kimmel (Hardcover - September 1, 2008)
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