Sammy Spider, that curious arachnid who refuses to just spin webs, follows his boy companion Josh to a Simchat Torah service when he gets himself stuck on a syrupy candy apple atop a small Jewish flag. As in previous outings, the inquisitive spiderling learns about this important Jewish fall holiday that joyously marks the year-long completion of the reading of the Torah through parade, singing and dancing. Just as Josh likes to read his favorite book over and over again, the Jewish people like to read the Torah, their favorite story, again and again. Signature cut-paper collage art employs some lovely colors and textures, but Kahn's choice of blank blue and brown paper eyes is disconcerting, and the all-too-familiar question-and-answer pattern of this author/illustrator duo make this entry in their series feel stale. Still, there are few enough choices available on this particular celebration to allow purchasers to be too choosy. A candy-apple recipe completes the formulaic, if well-meaning, tale. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Up above the couch Mrs. Spider was gently rocking Sammy in their web before he went to bed. Below the web, Mrs. Shapiro was nestled up with her son Josh. It was time for him to prepare for bed as well, but he asked her to read him a story. Sammy wanted his mother to read him a story, but she hugged him and said, "Spiders don't read books. Spiders spin webs," and said he could lower himself from the web and quietly listen. Sshhhh, it's time to listen. Sammy marveled as he listened to the story of creation and looked at the pictures, especially when he saw a colorful spider that looked like him. Again, again...both Josh and Sammy wanted to hear the story again! After school Josh rushed in with a "small torah scroll" he made for Simchat Torah, but didn't know what it was all about. His mother told him all about the Torah and what would happen at the synagogue service. Sammy's mother began to tell him all about the story of the scroll and the story of the Jewish people. Of course spiders didn't celebrate Simchat Torah, but that didn't mean they weren't interested. The next day Josh brought home a Simchat Torah flag. Soon preparations were underway and they were making candy apples "to remind us how sweet it is to learn Torah." Sammy accidentally slipped from his web onto an apple. Soon they would head to the celebration, but what would they see there? This is a charming story that will teach young children about a very special Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah. As Josh and the colorful young spider, Sammy, learn about the holiday so will the young child who peers into the pages of this book with a parent or caretaker. Books such as this one are an excellent way to begin a child's Jewish education. The colorful collage with a splash of bright watercolor on the spiders is very appealing. This is one in a series of delightful "Sammy Spider" books that are excellent introductory books to Jewish rituals and culture. If you want to build a small home library, Sammy would gladly join you to help your child learn about Simchat Torah! Quill says: This simple, well written story about Simchat Torah is an excellent way to introduce the young child to a special, exciting Jewish holiday!