Reviews are coming in for BAXTER, and he is delighted!
PreS-Gr 2–Baxter desperately wants to experience Shabbat dinner, the special Friday-night meal that ushers in the Jewish day of rest. He wants to see for himself how “the candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song.” When he learns that pork is a forbidden food according to Jewish law, he stuffs his face with kosher pickles and raisin challah, hoping to become kosher. He even tries, unsuccessfully, to become a cow. Finally, an encounter with a kind rabbi sets him straight. She explains that while he’s not kosher to eat, never will be, and really wouldn’t want to be, everyone is welcome at Shabbat dinner. Baxter enjoys a marvelous evening with the rabbi, pigging out on kugel, a Jewish casserole dish, and realizing that it is much better to be a guest than an item on the menu. The delightfully expressive and comical pen-and-ink illustrations are digitally enhanced with photographs of storefronts, deli counters, pickle jars, and traditional Jewish foods. While animals celebrating Shabbat isn’t new–think Sylvia A. Rouss’s Sammy Spider’s First Shabbat (1998), Diane Rauchwerger’s Dinosaur on Shabbat (2006), and Jacqueline Jules’s Once Upon a Shabbos (1999, all Kar-Ben)–the idea of a pig wanting to become kosher will entertain children and the adults reading to them, especially those familiar with Jewish traditions.Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL