Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher

Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher

by Laurel Snyder
     
 

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While waiting for the bus, a man tells Baxter the pig about the joys of Shabbat dinner. But before Baxter can find out how he, too, can join in the fun, the man has boarded the bus. Soon after, Baxter learns that he certainly cannot be a part of Shabbat dinner because he's not Kosher. So begins one pig's misguided quest to become Kosher. Will Baxter succeed or will

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Overview

While waiting for the bus, a man tells Baxter the pig about the joys of Shabbat dinner. But before Baxter can find out how he, too, can join in the fun, the man has boarded the bus. Soon after, Baxter learns that he certainly cannot be a part of Shabbat dinner because he's not Kosher. So begins one pig's misguided quest to become Kosher. Will Baxter succeed or will his dreams of taking part in Shabbat dinner remain unfulfilled? Readers will cheer as a series of misunderstandings leads to a warm message of welcome and community.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When an old Jewish man at a bus stop extols the joys of Shabbat and its traditional dinner, Baxter becomes a pig possessed. All he can think about is how "the candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song!" But then Baxter learns that being part of the Shabbat dinner has an entry requirement: you have to be something called "kosher." Stuffing himself with kosher pickles and challah bread, as well as trying his hand at being a cow ("He acquired a handy set of horns. He cultivated a taste for clover"), are a few of the ways Baxter futilely attempts to achieve that goal. Snyder (Inside the Slidy Diner) and Goldin (Go-Go-Go!) go together like matzo balls and chicken soup: the bright, daffy prose and ebulliently goofy cartoon and photo collages will persuade readers that they don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Baxter's spiritual journey--which ends, happily enough, at the Shabbat table of a kindly rabbi. Yes, of course he's a guest. What did you think? Ages 4-8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2010:
"Snyder and Goldin go together like matzo balls and chicken soup: the bright, daffy prose and ebulliently goofy cartoon and photo collages will persuade readers that they don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Baxter's spiritual journey—which ends, happily enough, at the Shabbat table of a kindly rabbi. Yes, of course he's a guest. What did you think?"

Review, School Library Journal, August 1, 2010:
"Delightfully expressive and comical..."

Review, The Horn Book Magazine, September & October, 2010:
"In-the-know readers will be tickled pink by mensch Baxter...while the uninitiated will quickly catch on."

Review, Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2010:
"This will...find plenty of use in Jewish homes, particularly among families in which one parent is not Jewish."

Review, Curled Up With A Good Kid's Book (site), December 2010:
"The smart dialogue ... effortlessly educates readers about the Jewish holiday called Shabbat right alongside an adorable pig who shares the same goal ... charming story with equally charming illustrations ..."

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Baxter, a happy-go-lucky, anthropomorphic, neatly dressed, and curious pig learns from an old man about Shabbat, the special Jewish day of rest, welcomed the evening before with song, dance, and a special dinner. Wanting to share this joyous time, Baxter is dismayed to be told that he cannot, because he is not kosher according to Jewish law. He tries eating kosher things, like pickles and challah; he even tries to become a cow. But he realizes sadly that as a pig he'll "never" be kosher. Finally a woman rabbi offers to help the sad pig. He tells her that he only wants to share the joy of the Shabbat dinner. Rabbi Rosen explains that although he will never be kosher to eat, he is welcome to join her for Shabbat dinner, for it is traditional then to welcome a stranger. And Baxter has "a marvelous time." Pen and ink lines create comic characters with added collage and "digital enhancement." The slapstick comedy is undergirded with information about the Jewish customs. A note and glossary are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582463735
Publisher:
Ten Speed Press
Publication date:
06/22/2010
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

One fine day, when Baxter was waiting for his bus, an old man sat down beside him and said, "Oh, I wish it were sundown right now."

"Why's that?" asked Baxter. He was a curious sort of pig.

"Because at sundown," said the old man, "the candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song!"

"They do?" asked Baxter. He had never seen a candle dance.

"Certainly," said the old man. Tonight is the beginning of Shabbat, the day of rest, and so we make a special dinner. We light the candles, sing our thanks, and raise a glass, surrounded by those we love best."

"Wow!" said Baxter. "That does sound like fun. That sounds terrific!"

"It is terrific," said the old man, as his bus pulled up. Then he was gone.

All week long Baxter thought about the old man's words.

"The candles gleam and glow and dance while our sweetest voices lift in song!"

So the following Friday, Baxter hurried back to the bus stop. But the old man was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Baxter found a younger man wearing a long white apron.

After a while, Baxter cleared his throat. "Ahem! I wonder, sir, do you know anything about Shabbat dinner?"

"I should hope so," replied the man in the apron.

"Oh, good," said Baxter. "Will you tell me how I can be a part of it?"

The man in the apron stared. "YOU? A pig? Part of Shabbat dinner? That's impossible!"

"Why?" asked Baxter.

"You're not kosher!" said the man in the apron.

"Kosher?" asked Baxter. "What's kosher?" But just then the bus arrived.

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