Lights Out Shabbat

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shulimson’s first children’s book is a sweet story of a boy’s overnight visit to his grandparents’ house. It’s an unusual Friday in Georgia, for the lights go out and it snows. According to the rules of Shabbat, no light may be either turned on or off during the Sabbath, so Papa and Nana perform the routine Shabbat celebration, lighting candles, saying prayers, and spending family time appreciating the snow, the stars, and one another in the dark. Told from the boy’s point of view, the darkened house and the snow are both fun and mysterious, and the familiar rituals he and his grandparents perform together are comforting. Ebbeler’s (April Fool, Phyllis!) illustrations employ rich yellows, greens, and reds, and his casual-seeming strokes underscore the comfortable familial love the characters share. The story captures the essence of Shabbat as a day of rest, of family time, and of giving thanks. When the electricity returns, Papa says, “I guess even the lights needed a Shabbat rest.” The suggestion of suspense about the duration of the blackout and the boy’s grandparents calm acceptance of it reminds readers of the mystery of God. Ages 2–8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Our young narrator tells of an unusual snowstorm in Georgia on a Friday night. He is spending the Jewish Sabbath at his grandparents' when, after they light the Shabbat candles, the lights go out. They eat the delicious Shabbat dinner, "But the lights do not come on." This is the repeated refrain, as he and his grandparents keep busy despite the lack of electricity. His grandfather tells him stories until he is sleepy. The next day, in the very quiet house, they say a special prayer. Then he and his Nana make snowmen and take a walk. The snowmen melt while he plays in the attic. It gets dark outside, but still no lights. He and his grandpa look at the stars outside through a telescope. They celebrate the end of the Sabbath. When the lights finally come on, it's a shock. The Sabbath rest is over for the electricity as well as for them. There is a liveliness to Ebbeler's slightly stylized portrayal of the family members: a thin old man with glasses, a plump gray-haired woman with lots of energy, and the active narrator observing the various rituals. Double-page scenes depict a comfortable, middle-class house and neighborhood. The scenes are rich with familial love and the Sabbath celebration. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A rare snowstorm in Georgia knocks out the electricity one Friday night just as Shabbat begins. A boy spends the visit with his grandparents playing in the snow and enjoying their time together. Just after Havdalah (the end of the Jewish Sabbath), the power is restored. "'It looks like Shabbat is over for the electricity, too,' says the boy, 'I guess even the lights needed a Shabbat rest!'" This is a quietly pleasant story, offering a cozy portrayal of intergenerational bonding and traditions being passed along. There seems to be some attempt to build tension by the repetition of the line, "But the lights did not come on," but the relaxed nature of the tale prevails. There is no big adventure or lesson to be had here, just a slice of contemporary Jewish life, notable for its location, a setting rarely seen in Jewish children's lit. The casual, slightly gawky paintings reinforce the family's ordinariness, and the lemon-lime cast that dominates the art adds a sort of Southern juiciness. A solid purchase for Judaica collections, and an additional purchase elsewhere.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
A surprise snow storm and subsequent power outage make this Shabbat even more special for a little boy visiting his Nana and Papa in their Georgia home. Shabbat candles already lit, the evening meal of challah and blintzes is topped off with cherry snow cones and Papa's stories of his childhood. And when the power is still out hours later, morning sunshine brings a new day of gratitude and play in the snow before a Shabbat afternoon nap. Darkness once again descends, leading to the traditional havdalah (end of Shabbat rituals) as the power returns, closing out a day of rest and reflection for all. Acrylic strokes create detailed scenes of a Southern climate capped with a chilly snowy dusting, extending the warmth of the story. And despite the visual portrayal of grandparents who seem more Old World than contemporary American in their stereotypically elderly appearance--Nana comfortably chunky with a triple chin and cropped white hair and Papa rail thin with white hair and mustache--it's an overall convincing image of events and attitudes. This Shabbat-themed celebration of family love prevailing over a 24-hour period sans electricity smoothly communicates the importance of the weekly observance. (Picture book. 4-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761375654
  • Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/28/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,036,785
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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