The classic folktale, about the rabbi of Nemirov who disappears every year before Rosh Hashanah without any of his congregants or the villagers knowing where he has gone, has been beautifully adapted from the I.L. Peretz story. When the rabbi is nowhere to be found, the people of the village assume that he goes up to heaven to beg forgiveness before the New Year. Reuven and his young friends, however, want to know the real truth. Reuven is delegated to follow the rabbi and ascertain the truth of the rabbi’s destination. He succeeds in doing so, following the rabbi into the forest and into the home of a poor tailor’s widow, where he spies the holy man performing a great mitzvah by bringing her wood and lighting a fire in her home. Dramatic full page illustrations are done in a richly colored folk-art style, using colored pencil and water color. The author has written and illustrated the well-received Rachel Captures the Moon and Rachel’s Gift. His latest work is another success. In comparison with Barbara Cohen’s 1987 excellent retelling of the same tale, Ungar introduces a touch of humor and, in addition, uses children as his protagonists, making this version extremely child-centered, in an ageappropriate way. This book will be popular at High Holiday time. For ages 5 – 8.
Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Specialist’s Certificate in information science. She is the library director and media specialist at the Moriah School in Englewood, NJ.