Bax­ter, the Pig Who Want­ed to be Kosher

Lau­rel Sny­der; David Goldin, illus.
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011
Bax­ter the pig hears from a man at his bus stop about how won­der­ful Shab­bat is, and that when it starts at sun­down, The can­dles gleam and glow and dance while our sweet­est voic­es lift in song.” In humor­ous attempts, he tries to become kosher so that he can attend one of these din­ners. He eats lots of pick­les, and an enor­mous amount of chal­lah, but he is told that he has not suc­ceed­ed in becom­ing kosher. Then he meets a rab­bi, who shows him where it is writ­ten in Hebrew in her book that it is a mitz­vah to invite strangers to Shab­bat din­ner, and that he, def­i­nite­ly strange, is wel­come at her din­ner that evening. Kids will enjoy David Goldin’s car­toon-like illus­tra­tions, done in pen, ink, and col­lage with dig­i­tal enhance­ment. His pick­le-cov­ered end papers are great fun, and writ­ing Laurel’s Bak­ery” on a neigh­bor­hood bak­ery is a clever touch. The book imparts the pos­i­tive mes­sage that every­one, even a pig, is wel­come for Shab­bat. In the glos­sary, Lau­rel Sny­der has defined many of the terms used in the sto­ry. After she writes that kosher is food that meets tra­di­tion­al bib­li­cal stan­dards for Jew­ish munch­ing,” with one impor­tant rule that you can’t mix milk and meat togeth­er- no cheese­burg­ers,” she then writes: a lot of these rules just tell you not to eat cer­tain icky ani­mals you wouldn’t want to eat any­way. For instance, no fried vul­tures. And no roast­ed rats!” Although these humor­ous­ly tie in with the pig theme, many read­ers who do not know what is involved in keep­ing kosher may find this con­fus­ing. The sto­ry would have ben­e­fit­ed from a fur­ther expla­na­tion clar­i­fy­ing the con­cept of eat­ing kosher food, in this oth­er­wise clev­er­ly illus­trat­ed and amus­ing book with a pos­i­tive mes­sage. Pre-school – grade 2.

Read Lau­rel Sny­der’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

How Bax­ter Came to Be

The Job of Being Jew­ish

Bax­ter the Pig: The Sim­ple Son

Andrea David­son is the librar­i­an of The Tem­ple-Tifer­eth Israel in Beach­wood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and is a for­mer mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards Com­mit­tee. She enjoys try­ing out the books she reviews on the kids at the Tem­ple and on her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions