Sophie’s Monster Goes to Shul

Kar-Ben. Mar. 2024. 24p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728460239.
Gr 2-4–Sophie’s fluffy blue monster lives in her closet (and her imagination), but now that Sophie is no longer afraid of him, he needs a new job. “Oy, oy, oy!” cries the Yiddish-speaking monster, until Sophie takes pity on him. Finding no success for a monster in the kitchen, the car, or even outside, Sophie eventually brings her monster to shul, the synagogue where she, Bubbe, and Zayde (her grandmother and grandfather) go each Sunday. When the monster hears Bubbe kvelling (“feeling happy and proud/ because we’re all here”), he’s all in. After all, what monster borne of a Jewish child’s imagination could resist learning Israeli dances and clapping along to Jewish songs? This playful story celebrates the daily life of a Jewish family and honors religious and cultural traditions in a joyful, digital palette that will appeal to lovers of the film Monsters, Inc. (Indeed, Sophie’s monster bears a striking resemblance to Sully). And nods to Judaism aside, any young reader might find themselves kvelling at the notion of a once-frightened child empowered to help their very own ex-monster find a new activity.
VERDICT Recommended as a read-aloud for preschoolers and a warm introduction to one joyful aspect of Jewish life.

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