Some­thing New for Rosh Hashanah

Jane Yolen, Chris­tine Bat­tuz (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – September 23, 2021

In lilt­ing, rhyth­mic, nurs­ery-rhyme-style, Jane Yolen presents the sto­ry of young Bec­ca who, like many chil­dren her age, will not try new food in Some­thing New for Rosh Hashanah. If Bec­ca has­n’t pre­vi­ous­ly eat­en and liked it, the new offer­ings rate a spir­it­ed NO!” every time. The refusals are often punc­tu­at­ed with a defin­i­tive ICK,” accom­pa­nied by a facial gri­mace that makes Bec­ca­’s dis­like as clear as it can pos­si­bly be. Bec­ca­’s cat keeps her com­pa­ny and gri­maces along with her. When Rosh Hashanah arrives and Bubbe’s deli­cious brisket is on the menu, Bec­ca con­tin­ues to demur. NEV­ER!” she emphat­i­cal­ly declares as she and her cat storm out of the room.

In order to accus­tom Bec­ca to new expe­ri­ences, her father offers to shave off his mus­tache, and her moth­er offers to learn to knit sweaters. While the idea of a new sweater piques inter­est, Bec­ca remains unwill­ing to try new foods. She will not taste the Rosh Hashanah chick­en soup. She will not taste the kugel. Even the sweet hon­ey cake does not pass Bec­ca­’s lips. Then she spies a lone green bean, the biggest green bean any­one has ever seen. She gob­bles the green bean and asks for more. The impasse is over; Bec­ca is no longer reluc­tant to eat new foods and she promis­es to try gefilte fish when Rosh Hashanah rolls around again. Bec­ca and her cat both sport giant grins; new foods are now eager­ly awaited.

Yolen’s repet­i­tive beat is catchy and per­fect for singing or chant­i­ng aloud. The lis­ten­er will be caught up in the rhyme and rhythm, pos­si­bly accom­pa­ny­ing the telling with a spir­it­ed tap­ping of fin­gers or toes. Those read­ing it on their own may find them­selves singing or chant­i­ng, too.

Bold col­ors, big expres­sive faces, and plen­ty of detail make the illus­tra­tions stand out, adding to the fun. This sto­ry, as sweet as hon­ey cake, encour­ages chil­dren to try new things as it deli­cious­ly entertains.

An append­ed note teach­es the read­er more about the hol­i­day of Rosh Hashanah.

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.

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