Happy Roo Year: It’s Rosh Hashanah

Kar-Ben. Aug. 2021. 12p. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781728427904.
PreS–This brief Jewish New Year board book starring kangaroos breaks no new ground but may please preschoolers. Rhyming four-line stanzas cover the basics of a kangaroo family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah as they attend synagogue, hear the blast of the shofar (ram’s horn), eat round challah, and enjoy a family meal. Traditional apples and honey are depicted in the illustrations but never mentioned in the text. The narrative is brief, the rhymes work adequately, and the text scans reasonably well. There is not much story beyond the Roo family going through the traditions, but it is an accessible read-aloud. The bright illustrations have a collage look, with a slightly expressionist Chagall-esuque feel. A mix of single- and double-page full-bleed spreads convey the story, and a white background allows the vivid hues to pop. The Rabbi Roo wears a prayer shawl while blowing the shofar, and some of the (presumably male) Roos wear yarmulkes. While the choice to make the characters kangaroos feels a bit random, the idea of setting the tale in the outback does give the holiday a sense of universality. On the whole, this effectively conveys the holiday, though enjoyment will depend on at least minimal familiarity with Rosh Hashanah.
VERDICT Jewish libraries and preschools may want to add this pleasant read-aloud. An additional purchase for public libraries with large Jewish populations.–Amy Lilien-Harper, Wilton Lib., CT

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