Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae: A Rosh Hashanah Story

Apple & Honey Pr. Aug. 2019. 24p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155500.
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.

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