Friendly and curious, Sammy Spider learns about the Jewish custom of welcoming new neighbors in this successful addition to the well-loved series. Josh is helping Mrs. Shapiro bake a cake for the Israeli family moving in next door and Mr. Shapiro suggests that they also take over some pita bread and hummus, in keeping with the tradition of bringing new neighbors bread and salt so they will “enjoy many happy meals together.” Sammy is eager to welcome the neighbors too and, when a sudden breeze carries him to a tree next door, he lowers himself down to find the new boy crying. Sammy spins a web to cheer the boy up and then watches as the Shapiros arrive and the families get acquainted. What seems simple here is still a lesson worth teaching, as kindness and openness toward others is always a mitzvah, particularly for someone who is feeling lonely and out of place. Though somewhat formulaic by now, the text reads comfortably and includes a few Hebrew words such as akvish (spider), which Rouss cleverly places in a context that allows even very young children familiar with Sammy Spider to figure out on their own. As always, the colorful cut-paper illustrations on two-page spreads are cheerfully integrated into the story. Another welcome title from a team who clearly understand how to create books for very young children. Recommended for ages 2 – 8.
Teri Markson has been a children’s librarian for over 18 years. She is currently the acting senior librarian at the Valley Plaza Branch Library in North Hollywood, CA.