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How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box: And Other Wonders of Tzedakah

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Is Dalia’s little blue box magic—or is the real magic the generosity that helps her fill it?
 
When Dalia learns about tzedakah, the Jewish tradition of charity and caring, she creates a tzedakah box where she can keep the money she’s saved to help those in need.  Her little brother Yossi is curious about the Hebrew letters painted on the box. "Are those letters magic?" he asks. They must be because ...
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Overview

Is Dalia’s little blue box magic—or is the real magic the generosity that helps her fill it?
 
When Dalia learns about tzedakah, the Jewish tradition of charity and caring, she creates a tzedakah box where she can keep the money she’s saved to help those in need.  Her little brother Yossi is curious about the Hebrew letters painted on the box. "Are those letters magic?" he asks. They must be because Dalia tells him she's putting a big yellow comforter, a butterfly bush, and a banana cream pie inside of it! How ever will she do it?
 
 
Though there may be joy in receiving, Dalia’s story serves as a powerful reminder that the greatest joy of all comes from giving generously to others. 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—At the community center, pigtailed Dalia and her friends learn about tzedakah boxes, and when she gets home, she makes and decorates one of her own. She earns coins from chores and selling lemonade and adds some of her birthday cash to the box. Her younger brother, Yossi, asks about the box's contents and she cryptically tells him that it holds: "a big yellow comforter, a butterfly bush, and a banana cream pie." Delia takes Yossi with her to the community center and they join the other kids and her teacher on a shopping spree and delivery to lonely Mrs. Ross, who delights in her gifts and the company. Many faiths encourage children to save coins for this purpose, so appreciating this tale of giving is not restricted to Jews. McQueen's flat acrylic and oil pastel artwork celebrates family with scenes of shared labor and stolen kisses. In her afterword, Heller gives a brief history of tzedakah boxes, reminding youngsters that "Even a few pennies can be a wonderful sign of love."—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
From the Publisher
Review, The Horn Book, September/October 2011:
"McQueen’s rich-hued acrylic and oil pastel illustrations radiate warmth; the pictures of Dalia and her rosy-cheeked chums pitching in are cheerfully cluttered, while other images capture smaller, more intimate moments between the siblings. In Judaism tzedakah is considered a moral obligation, and the story shows how even young children can readily fulfill the tenet."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2011:
"Dressen-McQueen’s fully developed summer scenes in acrylic and oil pastel provide a vivid complement to the often–page-filling text, their naive, folk quality bringing great quantities of love and warmth to the tale.  As vivid a demonstration of community as readers are likely to find."

From the Hardcover edition.

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
One day Dalia's teacher at the community center tells the students about tzedakah boxes, the traditional place where Jewish people put money for charity. Back home, Dalia makes her own box and puts a dollar of her birthday money inside. When her curious brother Yossi asks what's inside, Dalia tells him "a big yellow comforter." Each day that Dalia earns money, she puts some in the box, telling the skeptical Yossi that there is something else inside: a butterfly bush, a banana cream pie. She also adds other meanings for tzedakah, like fairness, thinking of others, and doing the right thing. Yossi tries to believe her. Finally, Dalia clarifies it all; when all the children empty their boxes, they will be able to buy those things and give them to a needy and grateful lady. Yossi is then ready to make his own box. Acrylic paint and oil pastel effectively depict the naturalistic characters and settings. Lots of details in the double-page scenes reinforce the reality of the charity box and its meaning. A few of the pages are decorated with paper cut-outs, as are the end pages. A note fills in background information on tzedakah boxes and the lesson they teach. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—At the community center, pigtailed Dalia and her friends learn about tzedakah boxes, and when she gets home, she makes and decorates one of her own. She earns coins from chores and selling lemonade and adds some of her birthday cash to the box. Her younger brother, Yossi, asks about the box's contents and she cryptically tells him that it holds: "a big yellow comforter, a butterfly bush, and a banana cream pie." Delia takes Yossi with her to the community center and they join the other kids and her teacher on a shopping spree and delivery to lonely Mrs. Ross, who delights in her gifts and the company. Many faiths encourage children to save coins for this purpose, so appreciating this tale of giving is not restricted to Jews. McQueen's flat acrylic and oil pastel artwork celebrates family with scenes of shared labor and stolen kisses. In her afterword, Heller gives a brief history of tzedakah boxes, reminding youngsters that "Even a few pennies can be a wonderful sign of love."—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Charity and caring for others—the Jewish concept of "tzedakah"—comes full circle in the story of a big sister who demonstrates generosity to a younger sibling through community outreach.

After she learns about tzedakah at the community center, Dalia comes home and creates a tzedakah box to begin saving for the center's project. She inserts a dollar from her birthday money and tells her curious little brother, Yossi, that the box holds "a big yellow comforter." With each new donation to the box earned from her gardening chores and lemonade sales, Dalia adds a butterfly bush and a banana cream pie. Yossi's confusion grows; how can these things fit in what is essentially a piggy bank? Dalia kindly explains how her money, pooled with the other center participants', will eventually buy all three for a lonely, homebound elderly woman. In joining his sister, Yossi learns that "Tzedakahmeans... doing the right things. It means thinking of others and giving them what they need." Dressen-McQueen's fully developed summer scenes in acrylic and oil pastel provide a vivid complement to the often–page-filling text, their naive, folk quality bringing great quantities of love and warmth to the tale.

As vivid a demonstration of community as readers are likely to find. (author's note)(Picture book.5-7)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582463827
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2011

Meet the Author

LINDA HELLER has written and/or illustrated nearly a dozen children’s books. These have received, among other honors, the Parents Choice Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award, Linda wrote Dalia’s story in honor of her grandmother, Sarah Witkin, a Russian immigrant who embodied the practice of tzedakah through her generosity toward others. Linda is thrilled to be able to introduce the practice of giving tzedakah to a new generation. She teaches writing and art workshops for children in her hometown of New York City.  
 
 
Publishers Weekly named STACEY DRESSEN MCQUEEN's first picture book, Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming, a Best Children’s Book of 2003 and praised it as “an outstanding debut.” Booklist said of Stacey’s artwork in a starred review of The Biggest Soap by Candace Fleming, “[T]he pencil, oil pastel, and acrylic artwork, alive with the sun-drenched colors and patterns of the South Pacific, bubble[s] with happiness.” Stacey has drawn inspiration for her work from a wide range of sources, from Mexican folk-art to Gauguin’s paintings, to Oceanic tribal art. For Dalia’s story, Stacey was inspired by the ancient tradition of Jewish papercuts. Stacey lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

From the Hardcover edition.

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