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The Shabbat Puppy

The Shabbat Puppy

by Leslie Kimmelman, Jaime Zollars (Illustrator)
A wiggly puppy proves that even a pup can lead a family to Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath peace)


A wiggly puppy proves that even a pup can lead a family to Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath peace)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kimmelman (The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah) focuses on the tension underlying a sweet tradition shared by a boy and his grandfather. Noah and Grampa take a walk every Shabbat morning. It’s Grampa’s way of finding “Shabbat peace.” Noah wants to bring his dog, but Grampa always says no. Grampa likes to appreciate the small moments of beauty he finds in nature and share them with Noah. “That bouncing, barking puppy?... He’s still too noisy,” Grampa always says. A puppy might destroy the beauties they always find. With deep colors and details sketched in lines and hatchmarks, Zollars’s (Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale) illustrations of Noah and his grandfather in the house, in the park, on the street, through the seasons of a year depict their close bond and the joy they find in a ripe raspberry or a butterfly. Will Noah finally get his wish to take his puppy, Mazel, along one day? Perhaps Mazel will lead them to unexpected Shabbat peace. A PJ Library selection. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Avee Gee
Noah spends every Saturday with his Grandfather and loves it when they go on a special Shabbat (sabbath) walk to find Shabbat shalom (sabbath peace). But why can't his puppy, Mazel, come with them? Grandfather is adamant that Noah's rambunctious dog will ruin whatever Shabbat shalom they might find. Grandpa and Noah search for the ephemeral peace that will make you "feel good from the top of your head to the tips of your toes." Through the seasons, they find Shabbat shalom in the fallen leaves, the changing light, dew on a spider web, and a bush filled with ripe raspberries. Finally, when spring arrives, Grandpa relents and allows Noah to bring Mazel on their Shabbat walk, because presumably the puppy has matured and knows how to be quiet. Mazel immediately starts barking. Is Grandpa angry? The puppy spots a baby bird that fell out of the tree and was alerting Noah and Grandpa that it needed their help. Even Mazel can find Shabat shalom. Kimmelman uses the phrase Shabbat shalom as a metaphor for taking time out to notice beautiful things in nature—a sunny day, a butterfly, or ducklings in the water. While it is an interesting concept, the phrase Shabbat Shalom is commonly used as a greeting that people say to one another on the Sabbath, like wishing someone a good day. The alternate use of this common phrase might be confusing especially without reference to the Hebrew phrases in the text or afterword. An explanation of the name Mazel, meaning luck, would also enhance the text as it is an inherent element to the story. The notions of peace and finding beauty in nature are subjective images and seem too abstract for the audience the book was intended. The beautiful illustrations give a depth to the story that the text lacks. Reviewer: Avee Gee
Kirkus Reviews
The peaceful respite offered by Shabbat is celebrated in the nature walks a boy and his grandfather enjoy. Grampa's weekly ritual encourages Noah to find Shabbat shalom, or Sabbath peace, in the beauty of the natural world. Summer offers a fluttering butterfly and ducks on a lake. Autumn's falling leaves reflect the sun's "dancing dots of light," along with a glistening spider web and sweet raspberries. Softly falling snowflakes in the quiet atmosphere of winter are perfect exemplars of Shabbat shalom. But Noah wishes to share all this with his dog Mazel, quite the rambunctious puppy, whose exuberance, according to Grampa, would spoil the tranquility and purpose of outings on the day of rest. But once a year has passed, Mazel, a bit older and less feisty, joins Noah and Grampa on the weekly stroll to find their Shabbat shalom together. Double-page graphite drawings digitally colored in muted shades provide an array of unassuming urban scenes. Numerous examples in the text flesh out Grampa's exhortation to appreciate life in the observance of the day of rest. An effective presentation of the weekly religious observance as a personal reflection on life's simple pleasures. (Picture book. 5-7)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Noah and Grampa take a walk every Saturday morning, seeking "Shabbat shalom," or Sabbath peace. The boy always wants to bring his dog, but Grampa thinks that Mazel is too noisy and energetic. After a full year of refusals, he gives in; at the park, Mazel helps the pair rescue a baby bird and at last finds approval. This well-intentioned story may fall flat with young readers. Against expectations, it is the story of a "Shabbat puppy" in absentia: Mazel spends more time off screen than on. While adults will understand Grampa's desire for quiet, children are likely to think him mean for excluding the pup. He says "Shabbat shalom makes you feel good from the top of your head to the tips of your toes," which, ironically, seems like the perfect description of spending time with a beloved pet. The ending, too, falls flat. Mazel sniffs, wags, and barks, apparently to signal that he's found a baby bird on the ground. However, the text states, "Noah spies a baby bird." It is not clear that Mazel should get credit for this bit of "Shabbat shalom." The detailed, richly colored illustrations are full of energy and interesting perspectives. Despite the combination of popular elements (puppies, grandparents, the outdoors), the story never quite gels. The message about the beauty of Shabbat peace gets somewhat lost under the tension between the grandfather's and his grandson's definitions of happiness.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Shofar Series
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.40(d)
AD620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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