The Hardest Word

A Yom Kippur Story

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

The Ziz, a wonderful bird who lived long ago, is so big and clumsy that he can’t keep from bumping into things. When a tree he knocks over destroys the children’s garden, he seeks God’s help to fix things. “Bring me the hardest word,” God instructs him, and the Ziz flies off to search. He brings back words like rhinocerous, rock, and Rumplestiltskin, but none is acceptable, until he makes an important discovery.

Format Your Price
Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Fiction, Picture Books
Copyright 2001
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®, Lerner Digital ™
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2001-08-01
BISACS JUV033020, JUV017090
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 8.5 x 11
Features Awards and Reviewed


  • Joan G. Sugarman Children's Book Award Honorable Mention, Commended, 2001
  • National Jewish Book Award Finalist, Runner-up, 2001
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable, Commended, 2001


AJL Newsletter

“A breezy plot, a whirlwind protagonist, a sense of the silly and vibrant art combine to explain a vital part of our most somber and introspective holiday, Yom Kippur. . . Kar-Ben deserves our thanks for publishing another appealing gem.” —AJL Newsletter

San Diego Jewish Times

“This delightful take, featuring a loveable, klutzy bird teaching the essential lessons of the High Holidays, is just perfect!. . .This book is a must!” —San Diego Jewish Times

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

“Children and adults alike will enjoy this exceptionally unique Yom Kippur story.”

Washington Jewish Week

“The very complicated lessons of atonement and forgiveness on Yom Kippur are introduced to children in a warm and humorous story.” —Washington Jewish Week

Author: Jacqueline Jules

Jacqueline Jules is an award-winning author and poet. Her many children's books include The Hardest Word (National Jewish Book Award finalist), Happy Hanukkah Lights, and Picnic at Camp Shalom. She lives in northern Virginia.

Illustrator: Katherine Janus Kahn

Katherine Janus Kahn studied Fine Arts at the Bezalel School in Jerusalem and at the University of Iowa. She has illustrated many children's books including Kar-Ben's popular Sammy Spider series. She lives in Wheaton, Maryland.