From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 6-A story about the custom of Kapores, told by a man looking back on his childhood in a 19th-century Russian village. As described here, the ritual involves holding a chicken over someone's head while reciting a prayer in order to rid the person of the year's misdeeds. Triggering a commotion in the prayer house, the boy is sent outside and observes the chicken population leaving town. They're fed up with being vehicles for a New Year's clean slate. The boy pleads with the revolutionaries, saying he needs them to make Kapores so that his father will be proud of him. A hen asks, "Boychick- for this, do you really need a chicken?" In this skillful adaptation of a story by Sholom Aleichem, Silverman's addition of a young narrator lends immediacy and empathy, and streamlines the story with no loss of flavor and point. Though the tale is accessible and enjoyable, a discussion of Kapores beyond what is offered here will increase children's understanding and appreciation of the story. The comic alliteration and in-your-beak attitude of the cheeky chickens, reinforced by the handsomely humorous paintings, are appealing. Executed in layers of ink, pencil, gouache, acrylic, and oil, the illustrations are a wonderful combination of modern and folk art. The fiercely funny fowl, with long necks, whitish bodies, and rich red coxcombs, squawk right off the page. Good New Year's-let alone Rosh Hashanah-stories are in short supply. This is one to crow about.
Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. In this Jewish New Year story, based on a Sholom Aleichem tale, a young boy sneaks away from religious services to spy on a meeting of local chickens. The birds are upset about the tradition of Kapores, a custom involving twirling chickens overhead to symbolically rid a person of bad deeds. Declaring freedom for fowl, the birds go on strike, and not even negotiators can convince them to return. Without the ceremony, the boy despairs that he will ever be good enough to please his father; then, one of the hens gently explains to him that humans can control their own behavior. Trueman's stylistically inventive mixed-media illustrations, rich in earth tones, are visually striking. They juxtapose well with Silverman's understated yet humorous text; both include many nineteenth-century Russian setting details. A perfect choice for holiday read-alouds, this will make a welcome addition to religious collections, especially in libraries where there is a Jewish audience. Kay Weisman
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