"In her sweet ode to shalom bayit—a Hebrew phrase that means 'peace of the home,' and celebrates the Jewish value of the home as a sanctuary from the stresses, worries, and noise of the outside world—Linda Elovitz Marshall gives parents and caregivers a book to share with their youngest children that shows that no matter whether a home is a den or a castle, it is a place where they can find contentment. With tranquil rhyming verses, Marshall introduces little ones to cozy nests, dens, underground tunnels, and other places where animals make their snug homes. 'Shalom bayit, / bayit shalom! / Quiet places, / peaceful homes.' In her nest on a high branch, a mother robin and father robin watches over their five babies, while below a squirrel fills a hole in the tree trunk with soft leaves and a mouse snoozes in a small cave in the roots. Turtles, worms, frogs, and a fox also happily make their homes in the pond and grounds nearby. From this calm, bucolic scene, Marshall takes children into a house, where three children spend time with their family, cuddled up with Mom as Dad reads a story. 'A home’s a cozy, restful place, / a safe and loving family space,' Marshall says. 'Shalom bayit, / bayit shalom.' Ag Jatkowska accompanies Marshall’s gently flowing verses with lovely illustrations of the sun-dappled banks of a pond and the natural places a variety of animals call home. The adorable squirrels, turtle, frogs, fox, worms, robins, and mice as well as the trees and flowers are painted in a calming, yet vibrant color palette that will enchant little readers. Jatkowska’s final spread of a happy home, where a fire burns in the fireplace as the family enjoys a relaxing evening together is a loving portrayal of the meaning of shalom bayit. A charming board book to inspire comforting story times or bedtimes—especially during these challenging times—Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home would be a favorite on home bookshelves and is highly recommended for school and public library collections. The book would also make an excellent gift." — Kathryn Carroll, Celebrate Picture Books
A graceful observation of various calm and loving animal and human homes.
In this pleasant, nature-inspired board book, readers see various animals living in “shalom bayit”—“quiet places, peaceful homes”—before the book closes on a human Jewish family relaxing in their house. Peppy rhyming couplets—“A turtle makes a sandy mound. / A worm lives safely underground”—have a nice sound to them, and the short tidbits of information they impart about the different habitats and shelters of disparate forest animals are accurate. With sweetly anthropomorphized animals, complete with serene smiles and rosy cheeks, this is nature at its most passive and tranquil. Gauzy, multilayered illustrations feel inspired by the indistinct look of watercolors, and there’s plenty of charm in the busy landscapes and scurrying gray squirrels or big-eared mice. Botanical elements are especially well rendered. At points, this chill vibe feels too sedate, especially when it extends to the scene with the human family, as those three kids sitting suspiciously still in their tidy living room may not exactly mirror reality. While the book’s connection to its overall concept of “shalom bayit,” or domestic harmony, feels rather tenuous, it may speak to some Jewish households and would be a welcome book for any nature-loving toddler.
Likable art and a peaceable concept. (Board book. 2-4)