This book reads more like a manual for the holidays than a story but should serve as a vehicle for explaining the customs and meanings of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, if you need one. Toby, meditating on the porch swing, finds her way to realizing that saying you're sorry for mistakes or bad behavior may not be enough;that perhaps some restitution, like reading some books to her friend's little brother whom Toby had teased, is in order. Her best friend, who is not Jewish, plays the perfect straight man role, asking the right questions so Toby can explain things, agreeing with Toby's insights into forgiveness, asking for forgiveness for herself, too. It is all too neat, especially the completely gratuitous birthing of puppies by Toby's dog while the girls are talking about the holidays. Even the illustrations, while colorful and well done, are suffused with a curious lack of emotion, as if everyone needs to look mature to discuss weighty matters like repentance and hear the shofar in Temple. There are also errors in the transliteration of the Hebrew blessings into English. Read it if you must, but there are better choices. 2001, Pelican, $14.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer:Judy Chernak
Gr 1-3-When Toby asks her best friend's forgiveness for an accidental bumping and for calling her little brother "la biblioteca," an unusual so-called "insult," it provides a reason to describe to her friend how and why Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are celebrated. The dialogue is adult and stilted, and the plot is slight. The bland, full-color illustrations in which people's faces look similarly distorted do not contribute to the overall effort. Cathy Goldberg Fishman's On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Atheneum, 1997) is a better choice.-Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.