Sammy isn't shouting through this book as he did through his First Purim, but then noise is not part of the Tu B'Shvat holiday, the Jewish Arbor Day. It is a quiet, hopeful holiday, celebrated by planting trees and eating fruit and nuts that grow on trees in Israel. Sammy spots Josh, "his" family's son, putting in a sapling and true to form, also wants to plant. "Silly spider," chides his mother, "Spiders don't plant, or put out buds, or drink nectar like a bee, or climb like a squirrel...they spin webs." So Sammy does just that at the end of this lovely story about the cycle of seasons of a tree¾he spins a web to keep the young tree warm through the cold winter. The illustrations are very satisfying collages created from handmade papers that beautifully evoke the flavors of the seasons. A great gift for the holiday, which falls on January 28 in 2002, and a lovely addition to children's literature about trees any time during the year. 2001, Kar-Ben, $6.95. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
PreS-Gr 2-A disappointing addition to the series about a little spider learning about the Jewish holidays by celebrating with his human neighbors. Sammy watches the Shapiros plant a tree in early spring. The year passes as the tree grows and Sammy learns about the seasons as it flowers in the summer and its leaves turn in the fall. Tu B'Shevat is not actually mentioned as the New Year for trees until three pages from the end, when the Shapiros celebrate with nuts and dried fruit and the planting of a sapling. It's not clear whether or not the tree at the beginning of the book was also planted on Tu B'Shevat. The paper-cut illustrations in vivid colors show the changing tree and the family caring for their yard. As a book about seasons, Tu B'Shevat is marginally effective. As an explanation and celebration of Judaism's commitment to growing things, it falls flat. Try Leslie Kimmelman's Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays (HarperCollins, 2000) for a more detailed and pertinent explanation of the holiday.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.