Second-grader Shuki is annoyed that his elderly Aunt Esther is coming to visit and he will be forced to give up his bedroom. He complains, “Old people are as bad as babies. They need help for everything. They don’t even have any teeth! I’m not ever gonna be like that, no sir!” But then Shuki has a terrible nightmare in which he is an old man with poor vision, no teeth, and wrinkled skin. It’s his Aunt Esther, now a young woman, who is kind and helpful. When Shuki wakes up, he has a new attitude and shows that he now understands the mitzvah of “V’Hadarta pney zakeyn,” respecting the elderly. Originally published in 1986, this new edition features updated, full-color illustrations that depict a contemporary Orthodox family. The text is unchanged — still a bit long, didactic, and predictable. But fans of Yaffa Ganz, and other similar Jewish values-centered stories, will appreciate this fresh, new take on an old classic.
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.