PreS-Gr 1—This rhyming story introduces the Jewish concept of tashlich. One fall Rosh Hashanah day, Jackie, Jesse, Joni, and Jae head with their families, other members of the Jewish community, and their rabbi to the riverbank, carrying bags of stale bread. Once there, the (female) rabbi explains that they need to apologize for hurting others, with each child remembering a wrongdoing and apologizing. Finally, they throw the bread crumbs into the water to represent discarding their mistakes, and tell each other ways they will be better in future. The rhyming text is concise and accessible, if occasionally forced, and for the most part does a good job of explaining the tradition of tashlich in a way that will be accessible to preschoolers. The full-color, muted, mostly full-bleed illustrations are appealing, depicting the characters with round, oversize heads and simple but expressive faces. The characters present mostly as white, though one family looks Asian, and each of the titular children has hair of a different color. The one misstep is in the apologizing scene: it is unclear whether the children apologized when the wrongdoings happened, or if they are doing so in the present. While this story will not fully explain tashlich to the uninitiated, there is an author's note, and the presentation will work well as an introduction for young listeners. VERDICT Libraries with demand for Jewish holiday books, as well as Jewish preschools, will find this a welcome addition to the sparse Rosh Hashanah canon.—Amy Lilien-Harper, Wilton Library, CT
Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae come together with other children and adults to participate in the tashlich ritual during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
As they walk through a forest to a river, the children carry bread that they will tear up and throw into that moving body of water to represent any wrongdoings committed last year. Perhaps some of the children are not Jewish, as "Jackie asked Jesse and Joni asked Jae, / ‘Is this bread for the ducks / or a game that we'll play?' " Before Jesse or Jae can answer, Rabbi Miriam explains: "On Rosh Hashanah, we all need to say / ‘I'm sorry' to those whom we've / hurt in some way." The children each remember moments when they hurt their friends, incidents that range from teasing to betraying a secret. All have apologized, but their acts still weigh on their minds. After their personal reflections, they throw their breadcrumbs into the water to take part in the symbolic communal action of asking for forgiveness. Their actions and their vows are concrete and will easily be understood by readers. The simple rhyming text adequately covers the concepts of tashlich and forgiveness for young children. The illustrations, seemingly digital, have a childlike, naïve quality. Most characters present as white, although Jae and his family appear Asian. A brief author's note explains the custom for readers not familiar with it.
This child-friendly introduction to tashlich will be welcome in Jewish homes and classrooms and will open up secular discussions of forgiveness. (Picture book. 4-6)