When Farmer Max goes off to see a Purim play, the resourceful animals he has left behind decide to put on their own Purim play. The biggest of them all, Horse, seems a natural choice for the role of the King. Goat’s beard makes him a shoo-in for Mordecai, and sweet, bashful Duck is the perfect Esther. Sheep, though, isn’t at all comfortable playing the evil Haman; why do the cows keep mooing so meanly at him? Maybe a costume will make it easier to pretend. Just as Sheep is getting into a properly villainous fox costume, a real fox appears in the barnyard and at first no one knows who’s who. It takes a very brave “Queen Esther” and the combined efforts of all the farm animals to save the day and banish the actual fox. Bravo! What a show! Energetic and charmingly zany illustrations showcase each distinct animal personality. The book is probably a better choice for children already familiar with Purim; the actual Purim story, along with its moral and ethical dilemmas, takes a backseat to the zany commotion here. But on its own merits, the tale will probably have young readers “quacking up.” Recommendedfor ages 5 – 9.
Leslie Kimmelman grew up outside Philadelphia and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street College of Education; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies; and Sydney Taylor Notable Books. Kimmelman is an editor at Sesame Workshop and lives with her family just north of New York City.