On Tu B’Shevat, Netta brings home a small seedling from her Israeli preschool. She learns to care for it with water, sunlight, and even music, and while the plant grows so does Netta. The following year on Tu B’Shevat, Ima and Abba buy Netta a big girl bed and she decides that her plant also needs a bigger pot. As Netta and her plant continue to grow, her family grows too. With the arrival of a baby sister, the family moves to a new house. And when Netta is big enough to start kindergarten, she tells her plant: “You’ve grown so much, it’s time for you to go live by yourself… Tomorrow before I start my new school, Abba will help me plant you in a garden, where you can make new friends.” Netta brings her new friend Ilana to meet her plant and they return to the park on Tu B’Shevat for a picnic and party, and of course to plant more trees. While there isn’t much of a plot to this slight, sweet story, the themes of growing older, welcoming a sibling, moving to a new home, starting a new school, and making new friends will resonate with young readers. The charming, detailed illustrations match the soft, gentle mood of the text. A brief explanation of Tu B’Shevat is appended along with a glossary of Hebrew words (abba, ima, morah, and savta). Readers also learn that Netta’s name means plant, her sister Avital’s name means dew, and her friend Ilana’s name means tree. A welcome addition to the holiday bookshelf.
Recommended for ages 3 – 8.
Rachel Kamin is the Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. A past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Rachel is currently the co-editor of Book Reviews for Children & Teens for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter. She holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.