Shi­ra and the Trees

Galia Sab­bag; Erin Tay­lor, illus.
  • Review
By – March 24, 2017

Jew­ish edu­ca­tor Galia Sab­bag once again presents young Shi­ra, her wide-eyed hero­ine, who is eager to learn all about Jew­ish life. This time, Shira’s teacher is dis­cussing Tu Bish­vat, the Israeli cel­e­bra­tion of trees and Shi­ra is excit­ed to use this hol­i­day as an oppor­tu­ni­ty con­nect her dai­ly life in the US to the land of Israel through the medi­um of trees and nature. Her class does art projects and tastes Israeli fruits in order to learn more about the hol­i­day. She also learns about how things grow and how to take care of the world in which she lives. Shi­ra knows that tak­ing care of nature is impor­tant but she pays spe­cial atten­tion to the fact that Tu Bish­vat is an Israeli hol­i­day and she wants to make sure that trees are plant­ed on her behalf in Israel. When she finds a large sum of mon­ey and can­not locate the own­er, she decides to ded­i­cate it to the Israeli Keren Kayemet as they are respon­si­ble for plant­i­ng trees in Israel to ensure that the coun­try will flour­ish. When Shi­ra gets old­er and vis­its Israel her­self, she is able to see the trees and she knows that she made a very spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the land. The gen­eros­i­ty Shi­ra shows when donat­ing the sum of mon­ey she has found to a wor­thy cause is also fea­tured as a spe­cial mitz­vah. Good val­ues cer­tain­ly abound in this very short story.

This is an excel­lent way to teach Amer­i­can chil­dren about a sim­ple hol­i­day which helps them con­nect to a coun­try which they are told is impor­tant but which may seem very far away and dis­con­nect­ed to their dai­ly lives. The author incor­po­rates many Hebrew words into the text in a nat­ur­al way and illus­tra­tor Erin Tay­lor has drawn Shi­ra and her sur­round­ings as appeal­ing, expres­sive, col­or­ful draw­ings which enhance the story. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 5 – 8.

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