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."
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
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)
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