Naomi and her mother have just moved to a new town where they don't know anyone, and Naomi's mom can persuade her to deliver shalach manot (gifts of food traditionally delivered on Purim) to total strangers only by promising Naomi she can stay up late to bake hamantaschen (the pastry traditionally eaten on Purim). Naomi's mom certainly seems to understand the importance of turning things upside-down, one of the principles of Purim: she says shopping for Purim candy is more important than unpacking the boxes, and she dresses up as the Queen of Hearts to hear the megillah read at the synagogue. But would she really forget that Naomi's seventh birthday falls on Purim this year? While predictable, Simpson's (The Shabbat Box) story illustrates the traditions associated with the holiday, and an afterword explains its biblical and historical roots. Unfortunately, Church's tidy art accentuates the improbable elements of the plot: Naomi's mom creates impossibly perfect impromptu costumes and decorations, and every detail of the surprise birthday party that materializes for Naomi looks like it's been painstakingly crafted by experts. Ages 3-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-When Naomi Levin moves to a new town three days before her seventh birthday and the Jewish holiday of Purim, she struggles with the discomfort of being a stranger in a strange place. Her mother suggests that they break the ice with their new neighbors by giving them traditional Purim treats. For two days they ignore the moving boxes and set to baking hamantaschen, buying candy, packing up the goodies, and delivering them to every Jewish family in town. What Naomi doesn't know is that an invitation to celebrate her birthday is included with the sweets, resulting in a wonderful Purim surprise party complete with costumes, gifts, and lots of new friends. Though somewhat stilted, the cheerful illustrations successfully convey the loving relationship between parent and child. More than a simple holiday tale, this is a satisfying story about the value of giving.-Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Lesley Simpson is a Canadian journalist and picture book writer. Her previous books include The Shabbat Box and The Purim Surprise. Lesley has taught journalism and creative writing at Canadian universities. She lives in Toronto, Canada.