(Published by Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006. Out of print.)
“ An extraordinarily beautiful book.... Full of tactile activities, not too long, and brimming with good information. A must all year long.” — Shulamit Reinharz, PhD, professor, Brandeis University; co-author, The JGirl’s Guide: The Young Woman’s Handbook for Coming of Age.
The highly successful creator of Jewish-themed toy and movable books introduces the concept of the Judaic lunar calendar to young children including terminology in both Hebrew and English for counting and naming the days of the week and months. Related vocabulary and observances surrounding the end of the week, Shabbat, are also provided along with transliterated portions to facilitate older children's reading of and learning Hebrew. The Jewish observance of sundown to sundown, why major holidays fall on a full moon, simple words for the four seasons and Hebrew dates are all clearly outlined in a large font. Packed with information and basic paper-engineering of spinning wheels, slides and flaps against a bright, bold, colorfully cheerful design, Sper's work includes detailed endpapers with the Hebrew alphabet/numbering system, transliterated together with critical pronunciation guidelines. She concludes on an appreciative note, quoting Psalm 90: "Count our days with thanks and we will bring wisdom to the heart." (Picture book. 3–8)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4 — "Lift! Turn! Pull! Learn!" proclaims the cover of this concept book, and by the time readers have finished lifting flaps and pulling tabs, they have received an excellent education about Jewish time. "Thousands of years ago," says the author, "when the Hebrew calendar was invented, time followed nature. The sun, the moon, and the stars were the clocks and calendars." The information about the months and days of the week (along with various observances) is delivered through bold, colorful graphics and narration designed to appeal to kids. Although most likely to be used in Jewish schools, this book could find a place in units on time and calendars. —Lisa Silverman, Sinai Temple Library, Los Angeles. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Readers interested in when the Jewish holidays fall might consult the novelty book The Kids' Fun Book of Jewish Time by Emily Sper. This colorful pull-the-tab, lift-the-flap title allows children to play their way through the Hebrew calendar. It includes explanations of the days of the week and the divisions of the months, moon cycles and years, as well as Hebrew words for the various dates and topics. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Congregational Libraries Today (January/February 2009)
Emily Sper, author of Hanukkah: A Counting Book and The Passover Seder (both published by Cartwheel/Scholastic in 2003), now offers young children the opportunity to learn about Jewish time, a subject that can be quite complicated. Even for adults. Sper focuses on counting the days, weeks, and months of the Jewish year. When she explains that Hebrew days are counted from sunset to sunset, she illustrates with Hebrew words for night, day, morning, noon, and afternoon. A slide on one page makes the sun go up and down.
Hebrew names for days of the week are explained simply. A wheel that can be turned to reveal three stars in the sky tells us that the Sabbath has ended. Another wheel shows the phases of the moon, which Sper relates to Jewish holidays. She names the Hebrew months, including the extra month for a leap year (but doesn’t elaborate on the fact that the Jewish New Year starts on the seventh month). Hebrew months have up to thirty days, and Sper lists the Hebrew numbers 1 to 30 along with flaps to reveal the Hebrew letters for numbers 1 to 10. A Hebrew alphabet and vowel pronunciation guide are included.
Sper’s book would make a great gift book. It’s a bit fragile for the library, but one copy would be worthwhile to have in a synagogue collection. All the Hebrew words are translated and transliterated, so it’s a convenient place to find names for the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons.
The publisher recommends Sper’s work for ages 3 to 6. While ages 4 to 7 might be a better target group, the entire family will enjoy looking at it and using it for a reference. —Evelyn Pockrass
Jewish Book World Magazine
Lift! Turn! Pull! Learn! shouts the front cover of this beautiful book and rightly so. Author-illustrator Emily Sper parses the Jewish calendar in well laid out, clearly organized, colorful, sturdy pages. The book introduces the concepts of days, weeks, months, and a year as Jewish time. This book for tots is crammed with information. Some text is wordy; some vocabulary words too strong for targeted readers, but the mixture of English, Hebrew and transliteration keep the ideas flowing. Descriptions are fresh and age appropriate (for example: heavenly bodies as clocks and calendars, Shabbat as the time for a deep breath). The concepts of time and your actions in it end with a sweetly worded moral lesson. The bold, artistic illustrations support the words. Every concept has an interactive activity, and, as always, some action pages are easier to manipulate than others: the turning wheels and liftable flaps move easily; the pull-tabs tend to stick. The foil "glow" of the Havdalah candle is innovatively used. The volume buries education in charm and promises to be a delightful gift and a child pleaser. Ages 4–8. Reviewed by Ellen G. Cole