Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale

Apples & Honey Pr. Aug. 2017. 32p. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9781681155258.
PreS-Gr 3—Big Sam is baking an enormous round challah for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The huge hole he digs to make a mixing bowl becomes the Grand Canyon, and he carves a giant spoon from a redwood tree, stomps down the hills of West Texas as he kneads the dough, and lets it rise near the geysers of the Yellowstone River. After baking the bread on a lava bed inside Mount St. Helens, Big Sam is about to enjoy the fruits of his labor when two bald eagles remind him that he has some cleaning up to do. Apologizing, Big Sam also plants trees and flowers in the Grand Canyon, fills the Texas prairie with wildflowers, and clears away boulders blocking the Colorado River. Then, Big Sam shares his challah, along with apples and honey, with his friends Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Slue Foot Sue, John Henry, and Annie Christmas. The painterly illustrations warmly depict the American West, and an appended author's note explains the origins of giants such as Samson, Og, and Goliath in Jewish legends. Additional information about the Jewish value of "tikkun olam," or mending the world, is also included.
VERDICT This welcome addition to the Jewish holiday bookshelf will pair nicely with Sylvia B. Epstein's How the Rosh Hashanah Challah Became Round and Jacqueline Jules's The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story.

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