Little Red Rosie

illus. by Mónica Gutierrez. 32p. Apple & Honey. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155180.
PreS-Gr 1—A young girl sets out to bake a challah, a traditional braided bread, for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. "Who will help me measure the flour and make the dough?" Little Red Rosie asks her stuffed friends, Toucan, Parrot, and Hornbill. Unlike in the familiar tale, the birds respond enthusiastically. However, they have a hard time following Rosie's instructions, and in their eagerness to assist, they make quite a mess. Rosie remains patient and encouraging but soon realizes that it's better if she kneads and braids the dough, brushes it with egg, sprinkles the poppy seeds, and cleans up all by herself. The animals help Rosie say the blessing over the challah and help her eat it, too. The bright, cheerful cartoon illustrations complement the text but also create some confusion. While the bread traditionally eaten on the Sabbath is a braided loaf, on Rosh Hashanah a round challah is used. Both shapes are depicted and appear on the dinner table. No explanation or distinction is provided. The animals come to life to help Rosie in the kitchen, but when the guests arrive for the holiday dinner, the toys sit lifeless on the couch. They spring back to life to help Rosie with the blessings and to share a bite of challah but are again lifeless in the final illustration. In the author's note, Kimmel explains that Rosie is practicing kindness, patience, and encouragement through role-playing; he also discusses the Jewish value of welcoming guests. These messages may not be so obvious to young children.
VERDICT Leslie Kimmelman's The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah is a more successful Jewish holiday adaptation of the well-loved folktale.

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