Happy Birthday, Tree!: A Tu B'Shevat Story


A little girl celebrates Tu B'Shevat.
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A little girl celebrates Tu B'Shevat.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this charmingly illustrated and fun tale surrounding the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat—literally the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is the date on which the birthday of the trees is celebrated—Joni decides that singing "Happy Birthday" to the tree in her yard simply won't suffice. She enlists the help of her neighbor Nate to spice up the celebrations, and together they brainstorm what would make Joni's tree happy. As they water the tree, help bring it sunshine, decorate a branch, and sway in unison with the tree to keep it company, Joni is suddenly inspired with the perfect gift. The front and back inner pages, with their branchlike list of ways to help the Earth, will help children put into practice what they've learned from Joni. Vibrant colors and delightful storytelling bring the holiday, and its universal message to life. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"This story is a great introduction to Earth Day or any environmental study." Library Media Connection, January/February 2013

"Rosenberg's succinct text conveys the basic concepts of this holiday for young readers. Christy's soft-focus art features earth tones and spring colors. . ." Booklist Online, October 30, 2012

Children's Literature - Avee Gee
Joni climbs the big tree in her yard wondering how to celebrate Tu B'shevat, the Jewish holiday celebrating the Birthday of the Trees. Joni suddenly knows just what the tree needs—a party! She and her friend Nate think of ways to make the tree happy. Giving it water and sunshine, making a cupcake out of soil, and adding Joni's souvenir swan to one of its branches. But the tree is still missing something. Perhaps it needs friends? Pretending to be trees, Joni and Nate stretch their arms up until they ache, but another great idea sends Joni running home to her mom. Together they go to the nursery to pick out a new tree. With her father's help, they plant the sapling. Now Joni and Nate are ready to make a proper birthday party for the trees. Joni uses recycled newspapers to make party hats, but there is still problem, Nate says. There are not enough party hats for everyone and it is not just Joni's trees that are having a birthday but also the other trees in the neighborhood. After some thought, Joni comes up with the perfect present, a promise that she will take care of the little sapling. Perhaps coupling this story with Dr. Seuss' Lorax could inspire more classroom discussion about ways to protect trees and our environment; but by itself, this story neither makes the connection to the Israeli origin of this holiday, nor does it address environmental issues directly. Reviewer: Avee Gee
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Joni wants to celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish "Birthday of the Trees" (as explained in an author's note at the front of the book). She offers various gifts to the tree in her front yard: water, sun, a dirt "cupcake," but concludes that it needs a companion. Friends and family help her plant a sapling, and their gift is a promise to take care of the trees of the world. In a lovely conclusion, the rattling of leaves sounds "as if the trees were clapping." Endpapers list "ways to help the Earth," including a suggestion to spread the word to friends. Warm, impressionistic digital paintings show resourceful Joni, her cooperative friend Nate, and their peaceful, leafy neighborhood. Their ideas for gifts are realistic, their love for nature is palpable, and they make fine role models for readers. An excellent choice for caregivers to read before holding a tree celebration of any kind with children.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
On the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat, the birthday of the trees, Joni strives to create a celebration befitting her old majestic tree. She brings water; with friend Nate, she blows and blows the clouds away until the sun peeks out; she even places a large mud cupcake at the base of the tree's trunk. Although the tree doesn't eat the cupcake, it may look a little happier. Really, it's a frustratingly unresponsive honoree. Determined to find the right gift for her leafy friend, Joni concludes that a new tree planted close by and a promise to continue to nurture her arboreal companions is the best way to observe the holiday. "I promise to protect you and water you and love you.…I'll be good to the trees of the world." Demure characters colored in the hues of pale spring create a peaceful atmosphere for this environmentally conscious holiday, which encourages a respect for the Earth's natural offerings. Joni's "thinking out loud" conversational dialogue is balanced against an omniscient narrator, providing an easy-to-interpret text. And while directed at a Jewish audience, the overall ecological message can be applied in just about any cultural milieu. Ingenuous and sweet. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781489624048
  • Publisher: Av2 by Weigl
  • Publication date: 8/28/2014
  • Pages: 24
  • Sales rank: 1,466,718
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.33 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Madelyn Rosenberg has written for The Roanoke Times and American Journalism Review. Happy Birthday, Tree! is her first picture book. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Jana Christy is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including The Ocean Story and How to Hug. She lives in North Adams, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons.

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