Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express

by Deborah Bodin Cohen, Shahar Kobera

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The team behind Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride (2008) has a new adventure in honor of Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival. The setting is still 1892 Israel, and it's Ari's turn to make the run along the new tracks connecting Jaffa to Jerusalem. Ari greets his friends along the route and collects items to decorate his family's sukkah (ceremonial booth), but back home Ari feels farklempt: "On Sukkot we welcome our friends to our sukkah," he says, "but our new friends up and down the tracks live too far away." Luckily, his co-engineers have an idea to take Sukkah on the road. Sukkot certainly deserves a bigger place on shelves dominated by picture books on Passover and Hanukkah, but this story's premise is far slighter than the previous book, making the bluntness of Cohen's writing more apparent. And while Kober's drawings have lost none of their geniality, they lack the sense of place and history that gave the first book its distinctive flavor. A brief afterword gives some history on the railway, but those looking for additional information on Sukkot will have to turn elsewhere. Ages 5-9. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Put a picture of a train on the cover of a book, and you can be sure it will be picked up by pre-school boys. Add an entertaining story of friendship and tradition, and the story will become integral to religious school story times about the Jewish fall holiday of Sukkot. Loosely based on the historic arrival of train travel to Jaffa, Israel in 1892, this story involves a friendly train engineer who wants to share his Sukkot celebration with all of his friends along his train route. The construction of Engineer Ari's sukkah is vaguely reminiscent of the Little Red Hen as Ari collects the wood, palm fronds, and traditional fruits to decorate the ceremonial booth. The requirements of sukkah building are worked into the tale (the roof should be "Thick enough to keep out the rain, but thin enough to see the stars"), and Ari's friends' Hebrew names reflect the composition of the building materials. Ari's ingenious way of sharing his sukkah by loading it onto the train will delight young listeners. Cartoon-like illustrations are bright and big, perfect for story sharing, and a glossary of Hebrew words related to the holiday is included. A counting game is worked into the story to keep children's attention throughout the tale. This is a bright, happy story perfect for the celebratory spirit of this fall Jewish holiday. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Kirkus Reviews

Engineer Ari, the first conductor of the new train from Jaffa to Jerusalem, builds a Sukkah with friends Nathaniel and Jesse using wood left over from laying the new tracks. With help from new friends Hadas, Aravah and Tamar, who live along the Jerusalem route, Ari completes the Sukkah by gathering branches and grapevines for decoration as well as the necessary lulav and etrog to symbolize God's presence. After a first Sukkot evening meal, Ari laments not sharing his Sukkah with all his new friends, and the next morning he is surprised by Nathaniel and Jesse's solution--to turn one of the train cars into the Sukkah Express. Simple, clean-lined art in gouache and marker establish a late-19th-century Israeli farming community, whose men sport mustached faces and fez-covered heads in the shadow of a bright, shiny-red locomotive. The easy, flowing text with patterned repetitive phrases--"chug-a-lugged" and "todah rabah" (thank you)--creates a smooth, predictable narrative for this Jewish autumn holiday story and its historical setting. An author's note provides background on the original Jerusalem-to-Jaffa line. (glossary) (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Product Details

Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication date:
Sukkot and Simchat Torah Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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