2023 Picture Book Reviews

In August 2022 I started writing and posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as a means of uplifting my fellow picture book authors. I hope my attempts at bringing attention to these books will boost sales. If you would like to see these reviews, their titles, dates of posting, and links are below. I will be updating these links monthly. Enjoy.

MARCH 2023 (by date of posting)

10: Sitting Shiva: Loving gentle text by Erin Silver plus calming art by Michelle Theodore offer a sensitive account of the Jewish ritual of mourning. Each element of sitting Shiva is explained in a way a child can understand. This book has already won several awards.

16: With Lots of Love: When children move, they will miss much about the old place. Rocio is no different. She misses her Abuela’s pinatas, cooking, and hugs full of love. But when her birthday arrives, so do gifts from her beloved Abuela that remind her that love isn’t that far away. With lively artwork from Andre Ceolin, Jenny Torres Sanchez’s lyric prose that mixes Spanish and English helps soothe the longing.

FEBRUARY 2023 (by date of posting)

5: It’s A … It’s A … It’s A Mitzvah: In which acts of loving kindness are demonstrated by a gang of lovely animals drawn by Laurel Monk, written by Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman.

21: If I Had a Unicorn: A child’s visit to a museum where she admires a medieval tapestry of a unicorn in captivity sparks her curiosity. What would she do if she had a unicorn. Told in rhyme and illustrated with humor, by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow.


DECEMBER (by date of posting)

14: By the Hanukkah Light by Sheldon Oberman, illustrated by Neil Waldman, in which a grandfather parallels the ancient Hanukkah story with events of WWII – proving Hanukkah’s relevance and significance in modern times.

22: Ride, Roll, Run: I was fortunate to be in a read-aloud for this new Valerie Bolling book. The children were engaged and anxious to share their own favorite outdoor games – and ready to go out and move!

NOVEMBER (by date of posting)

4: Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman in which a visiting family discovers the many cultural, religious, agricultural sides of Israel while saying “hello,” “goodbye,” or “peace.”

9: Cow Says Meow by Kirsti Call with art by Brandon James Scott, in which an ever growing and infuriating collection of animals speak in the wrong language accompanied by puns and onomatopoeia.

28: Over, Bear! Under, Where? by Julie Hedlund with art by Michael Slack is neither over-done nor under-done, but is a heartwarming tale of making a new friend.

30: Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert describes the food, family, and fun of Hanukkah. The Marc Chagall-inspired artwork by Karla Gudeon give this book an extra kick.

OCTOBER (by date of posting)

1: Like a Diamond in the Sky: Jane Taylor’s Beloved Poem of Wonder and the Stars by Elizabeth Brown

1: I Miss My Grandpa by Jin Xiaojing in which a young girl finds out how like her unknown grandpa she is.

15: Don’t Sneeze at the Wedding by Pamela Mayer and art by Martha Aviles in which a young flower girl gets dubious advice from one and all on how to stifle her sneeze at her aunt’s wedding.

28: And There was Evening and There was Morning by Harriet Cohen Helfand and Ellen Kahan Zager (who also illustrated) in which the Biblical 7-day creation story is told in rhyme and amazing artwork.

30: Tofu Takes Time: In which a granddaughter and grandmother make tofu together. The little girl learns patience and all the complex elements that go into making a dish. Gently illustrated by Julie Jarema.

SEPTEMBER (by date of posting)

1: Nathan’s Song by Leda Schubert, art by Maya Ish-Shalom: A Jewish immigrant’s story

9: Good Boy words and art by Sergio Ruzzier: A relationship between a boy and his dog. In the end we aren’t quite sure: who the good boy is exactly.

10: The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story by Eric Kimmel, art by Katya Krenina. The name says it all.

18: Where Lily Isn’t by Julie Paschkis, art by Margaret Chodos-Irvine: Grieving a lost pet

19: Mom’s Sweater, words and art by Jayde Perkin: Dealing with grief over a lost mother (originally published in Great Britain)

22: I Hate Borsch! words and art by Yevgenia Nayberg: Oh, how she hates, then comes to love a traditional soup of her ancestors.

23: Tashlich at Turtle Rock, Susan Schnur, et al, art by Alex Steele-Morgan: One family’s Rosh Hashanah tradition of tossing their sins in the water.

AUGUST (by date of posting)

4: Frank, Who Liked to Build, by Deborah Blumenthal, art by Maria Brzozowska: The life of Jewish-Canadian architect Frank Gehry

8: Together We Ride by Valerie Bolling, art by Kaylani Juanita: A father teaches his daughter how to ride a bike,

10: Bug on the Rug by Sophia Gholz, art by Susan Batori: Rhyming story of sharing and friendship

11: Bedtime for Maziks by Yael Levy, art by Nabila Adani: A day in the life of a mazik (Yiddish for imp) is described in rhyme

15: Too Many Pigs in the Pool by Wendy Hinote Lanier, art by Iris Amaya: A cautionary tale of swine and swimming

18: Rena Glickman, Queen of Judo by Eve Nadel Catarevas, art by Martina Peluso: The Jewish woman whose love and skill of Judo gets the sport in the Olympics for women.

25: Togo & Balto: The Dogs Who Saved a Town by Jodi Parachini, art by Keiron Ward and Jason Dewhirst: Tells the tale of the two famous sled dogs.

25: The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert, art by Bonnie Christensen: A child makes borscht for her hospitalized grandmother with dubious help from her neighbors.

Libraries Are a Gift

by Marilyn Wolpin

I am lucky to live within a five-mile radius of three libraries – each in a different town. I use my computer to find the books I’m looking for and usually locate most of them in one of the three. Once a week I visit at least two of these libraries to pick up the children’s books I’ve ordered and drop off the ones I’ve read. This past week something happened at one of those libraries that shook my world.

A tall, dark man walked in carrying a small ginger-haired child. An older woman came as well. I assumed the man was the father and the woman the grandmother to this not more than three-year-old girl. The man went up to the librarian and without much of a discernable accent asked the librarian how to use the library.

Just drink that in for a moment. A person in our world who does not know how to use a library. Where in this world had he lived without one?

The librarian stepped away from her plexiglass enclosure and showed the family around. “These are the new books,” she said, indicating a row of child-level bins. “These are the board books,” she said, pointing out the room with a table and chairs.

“What are board books?” the man inquired.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you what they are. But again, drink that in. This family had lived in a world where there were no board books.

As the librarian finished her tour, the man spoke to his mother in a language I did not recognize (and I recognize a lot of languages). So I knew where they weren’t from: Europe, Japan, China, Israel, Russia, South America.

As I left with the ton of books I checked out (see previous TBR post), I noted the family seated in the board book room, child on daddy’s lap drinking in the wonders that are children’s books. What must this family think? There are places in America where you can just sit at your leisure and look at books? Impossible! Places you can go, show a tiny card and freely pick out books and take them home? Unbelievable! This has been possible all my life. I cannot imagine a world where it is not.

But where this family came from, it was not possible. Drink that in. No libraries all their lives. No place of delight and magic for child or adult.

I will no longer take libraries for granted. We are lucky. We are blessed.

Cherish and support your local library.