Shalom Every­bodeee!: Grover’s Adven­tures in Israel

Til­da Bal­s­ley and Ellen Fis­ch­er; Tom Leigh, illus.
  • Review
By – July 14, 2016

Kar-Ben and Sesame Street have anoth­er hit in their part­ner­ship of books with Jew­ish con­tent. Grover goes to Israel, in the fifth book in the series. The famil­iar fur­ry blue friend is extreme­ly up-to-date as he sends email from his trusty blue lap­top to his friends at home. He takes the bus into Jerusalem, trades dol­lars for shekels, and learns not only to say Shalom, which means hel­lo, but is con­fused by the con­cept that Shalom also means good-bye and peace. 

When he arrives at the bus sta­tion in Jerusalem, he is met by his friends Brosh and Avi­gail, and finds every­one rush­ing around prepar­ing for Shab­bat. Start­ing on the first day, he reg­u­lar­ly sends email accom­pa­nied by pic­tures describ­ing his dai­ly adven­tures. The illus­tra­tions, alleged­ly from his cam­era or lap­top, lend vital­i­ty and real­i­ty to the sto­ry. On his first day he is pic­tured buy­ing flow­ers for Shab­bat, and the sec­ond pic­ture por­trays him putting a prayer for Abby’s sick grand­moth­er into a crack in the Kotel. 

The descrip­tions are fun­ny and extreme­ly true to Grover. On an arche­o­log­i­cal dig, he finds a fuzzy blue hair in the dirt, which he sends a pic­ture of to his friends but he then finds it was from his own head! In addi­tion, as it turns out, a ten­nis sneak­er in the dirt belongs to anoth­er mem­ber of the group. 

Some of the addi­tion­al places he vis­its are Machane Yehu­da, an enor­mous mar­ket in Jerusalem; Masa­da, where he gets exhaust­ed hik­ing the Snake Path (his email that day describes the Snake Path as a long walk up and a long walk down”, and is signed by Your Tired Pal, Grover); Yam Kin­neret, the Sea of Galilee; and the Dead Sea. His email from this low­est place on earth is signed, Your salty mon­ster, Grover”. He takes a camel ride on Fati­ma across the desert and vis­its a Bedouin tent. In Eilat, he swims with the dol­phins. When he gets hun­gry he eats a messy felafel — which looks a lot like meat­balls but is made of chick­peas — and a ripe pome­gran­ate. He is also a vol­un­teer on a kib­butz, which he makes real for the read­er. On the last day he plants a tree with his own hands, in hon­or of his Sesame Street friends.

Grover is as cute and adorable as always, and fills his reports home with won­der­ful humor. The descrip­tions of his adven­tures are always age-appro­pri­ate for the des­ig­nat­ed audi­ence. There is rhythm in his sto­ry, and the read­er can tru­ly hear Grover speak­ing the words he is writ­ing. The illus­tra­tions are true to life and add to the trav­el­ogue. Col­or­ful illus­tra­tions of the under­sea life near Eilat are par­tic­u­lar­ly outstanding.

Rec­om­mend­ed as a read-to for read­ers ages 2 – 5.

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.

Discussion Questions