Tamar's Sukkah

illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. 32p. Kar-Ben. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467756365; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781467756372; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9781467788458.
K-Gr 2—Little Tamar's friends help her decorate for and celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot; she concludes that the best thing in the sukkah is her great group of friends. The self-sufficiency of the neighborhood children is appealing and the emphasis on friendship is heartwarming. The repetitive nature of the story structure works well, although the text is a bit wordy. Readers will learn the basic customs of Sukkot, but the book is definitely aimed at children already familiar with the holiday. The book was originally published in 1988, and this new edition has almost the same exact text, and the illustrations have been re-created in a new medium by the original illustrator. The art of 1988 is typical of its time, with a limited palette and blocks of color that overlap at the edges. The new pictures follow the layout of the old very closely with full color, detailed paintings. While this does more to attract the eye, the new art is stiff and unfortunately reproduces some of the problems of the original, such as poorly proportioned characters and confusing spreads in which the background is continuous across both pages while the action is not.
VERDICT The abridged board book version of the story, published in 1999, with a trimmed text and bright cartoon illustrations by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki, is more successful.

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