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The Sundown Kid: A Southwestern Shabbat Paperback – January 7, 2017
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This picture book nicely encapsulates the isolating experience of urban Jews who've moved to the wide open spaces of the American desert. Used to the hustle and bustle of the city and the proximity of family, Mama in particular feels lonely out west, where they are the only Jewish family in town. "Too much soup, not enough family," is her poignant refrain. Her son cleverly thinks outside the box by inviting friendly non-Jewish neighbors to Shabbat dinner, and Mama at last begins to feel at home. In these modern times of divisiveness, this is a hopeful story about cross-cultural acceptance that will be enjoyed by Jewish and non-Jewish readers. The illustrations by John Kanzler are also a real treat. - The Book of Life Podcast/Blog
Children's Book Council, Hot Off the Press, January, 2017
The Sundown Kid" is a wonderful, warmhearted tale about a good Jewish family who packed up to move from an East Coast city to the deserts of the Southwest in America. In the 1800's, they are the only Jewish family in their small, southwestern town. Naturally, Papa and Mama planned to continue their Shabbat family traditions in their new home, greatly enjoyed by their only son, otherwise known as the Sundown Kid. Mama would make her good Chicken vegetable soup and challah, and Papa would wash his face, dress in his Shabbat best, and wear his yarmulke to celebrate Shabbat. However, a problem occurred when it came time to share their Shabbat meal. "Too much soup, not enough family!" declared Mama. The Sundown Kid watched his family make their adjustments to their new home, and decides to invite their new neighbors, even though they are not Jewish, or family. The subsequent Shabbat gathering is a beautiful success. Attended by Sheriff and Mrs. Ryder, Blacksmith Ricardo and his nephew Miguel., plus the whole O'Toole family. Everyone loved Mama's soup! And a happy Shabbat supper tradition began in the new desert home for this kind Jewish family. Delightful, comic, colorful illustrations grace this warm tale of encouragement and community support. Midwest Book Review
FUSE 8 Production (School Library Journal) Transcendent Holiday Picture Books, 2017
Would you count Shabbat as a holiday? Probably not, but I'd like to include this on some kind of a list and this comes close. It's actually the best Shabbat picture book I've ever read, though I'd love to hear the suggestions of your own favorites as well.
About the Author
Barbara Bietz, creator of the website Jewish Books for Kids, is not only an accomplished author, she is also a magazine writer, educator, and respected book reviewer. Bietz has served as chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the Association of Jewish Libraries, and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Bietz currently teaches writing classes for adults and children. Barbara earned a BA and Master's degree in Education from the University of Arizona. She lives with her family and their three naughty dogs in Oak Park, California.
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Besides being a delightful, inspiring story the illustrations by John Kanzler are colorful, beautifully showing the emotions of the characters. Also, my grandson and I enjoyed the East moving to the Southwest feel to the illustrations. Mostly we enjoyed discussing the facial expressions of the various characters as much as the story itself.
We all need a young boy with gumption in our lives. You can find a delightful one within the pages of this quick reading book.
The publisher through Net Galley provided a copy.
And good it is. These watercolor illustrations on some type of textured paper make the images look as if they are painted on burlap or rough canvas all while still maintaining clarity, color and compelling the reader to look closer. Warm images with just enough detail will compel the young readers to linger on these pages.
The story itself is a reframing of a common narrative theme of homesickness, the child wanting to make things better and a joy-filled resolution. Barbara has created essentially a first-person fiction regarding a historical reality of Jewish families bringing their culture and religion to the Old West. The author tells of one young man's solution to the problem resulting in a multi-cultural gathering of food and community. Her tale has a nice balance of wide-eyed wonder, melancholy and playful joy.
The book, published under August House's Little Folks imprint, is good for young children of any culture or background. It will open up an opportunity to engage a young reader (we suggest from about kindergarten to maybe third grade) in a conversation about culture, identity and community. One does not necessarily need to be Jewish to appreciate the book or use it with your child. Read it with your kids. Maybe you'll all learn something new.
We received a complimentary advance copy from the publisher in order to facilitate this review. (–Storyteller.net Reviews)
The story itself speaks to experiences that many kids will understand--certainly any child who's ever moved to a new place, or even started a new school--and is effectively told through the eyes of the extremely relatable narrator. It features a delightful refrain that lists the preparations the family undertakes for Shabbat; my daughter especially loved being able to finish the sentences by the third time, which was great for keeping her engaged. The illustrations featured a beautifully Southwestern color palette and details, such as the facial expressions of the desert animals, that further helped bring the story to life. I would highly recommend it for home libraries, as well as classroom use or library collections.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book for purposes of writing a review.
In this story we are introduced to a Jewish family that has moved out West to start a better life.
Though they are the only Jewish family in their small town that does not stop them from preparing for Shabbat. Though I do wish we were told what Shabbat was especially since I do not know much about the Jewish traditions.
As they are in the middle of Shabbat the young boy's mom misses their family that is back home so, what is the best way to fill their home with laughter besides memories? Invite your neighbors to celebrate Shabbat with you and share the laughter and love you have. We all know there is plenty to go around.
The illustrations were very lively and went well with the story.
Their young son invites the neighbors to the next Shabbat dinner -- thereby creating a new family.