Sam­my Spi­der’s First ABC

Sylvia A. Rouss; Kather­ine Janus Kahn, illus.

  • Review
By – June 20, 2022

Adorable Sam­my Spi­der is back and this time he is learn­ing the Eng­lish alpha­bet by con­nect­ing each let­ter to a Jew­ish con­cept or hol­i­day. Sam­my watch­es Josh and his fam­i­ly observe the tra­di­tions and the spe­cial days of the Jew­ish year and learns his Eng­lish let­ters through liv­ing life accord­ing to the Jew­ish cal­en­dar; start­ing with A which rep­re­sents the ubiq­ui­tous Rosh Hashanah apple, con­tin­u­ing with B, which stands for the many bless­ings in Jew­ish life, all the way through the Z in the cen­ter of the word mitzvot, which trans­lates to commandments.

There’s a notable focus on the impor­tance of Israel (F is for falafel, J is for Jerusalem, N is for Negev) which reminds Amer­i­can kids of the cen­tral­i­ty of Israel with­in Judaism.

The col­or illus­tra­tions are eye-catch­ing and appeal­ing, show­ing lots of bright eyes and hap­py smiles.

A short author’s note, which pre­cedes the text, focus­es on learn­ing the alpha­bet and explains devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate stages. It notes that each page fea­tures its theme let­ter in both upper­case and low­er­case forms. A short after­word dis­cuss­es the his­to­ry of the Eng­lish and Hebrew alphabets.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions