Sadie and the Big Mountain

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

When her preschool plans a Shavuot hike just like Moses took up Mt. Sinai, Sadie is afraid she is too little to make it to the top, and tries to think of ways to be absent. But when the day comes, she learns that anyone can climb high enough to reach God.

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 1
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV017090
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 10.375 x 8.875
ATOS Reading Level 3.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 151293
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards and Reviewed

Author: Jamie Korngold

Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold received ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and is the founder and spiritual leader of the Adventure Rabbi Program. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her two daughters, Sadie and Ori.

Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry

Julie Fortenberry is an abstract painter and a children's book illustrator. She has a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College in New York, and lives in Philadelphia.


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable, Commended, 2013


Jewish Book World

“Sadie loves everything about school. But when Morah Sarah tells the class that they will mark Shavuot with a hike, like Moses did when he climbed Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, Sadie is very worried that she won’t be able to complete the trek. Each day that week the teacher dedicates part of the class to preparing for the hike; taking walks, decorating walking sticks, learning about the Ten Commandments, making cheese blintzes for their snack. Sadie tries to convince herself that she’ll have poison ivy, chicken pox, or the flu on the day of the hike. When Rabbi Jamie notices Sadie’s reluctance on the big day, Sadie tells her she’s afraid she won’t be able to climb the mountain. Rabbi Jamie shows her the small hill they will climb, explaining that God chose Mt. Sinai over taller mountains to show that anyone can ascend high enough to reach God. A relieved Sadie skips and giggles with her friends all the way to the top.

Anyone who has ever felt nervous about a new challenge will sympathize with Sadie and root for her to conquer her fear. Julie Fortenberry’s illustrations provide just enough detail to help young readers visualize Sadie’s classroom, bedroom, and the hill without overwhelming them. Readers may wonder why Sadie’s parents are completely absent from the text and illustrations, and why Morah Sarah seems not to notice her student’s ap­prehension. Nonetheless, this is a charming addition to the short list of children’s books about Shavuot. Note that the cataloging mate­rial indicates that the book includes a recipe for blintzes, but the finished copy does not contain one.

Highly recommended for ages 3-6.”—Jewish Book World

School Library Journal

“Sadie loves going to preschool at Temple Beth El where she sings songs, climbs on the tall gym outdoors, dresses up in costumes, and plays with her classmates. But on Monday, when her teacher tells the children about the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, Sadie gets nervous. She learns that Moses climbed all the way to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from God, and that the children will take their own hike at the end of the week. Sadie hates hiking: her boots always hurt her feet, her backpack always feels too heavy, there are never enough snacks–and she’s convinced that she will not make it to the top of the mountain. While she enjoys the activities leading up to the holiday–decorating walking sticks, learning the Ten Commandments, and preparing blintzes–she spends the whole week hoping for a stomachache, chicken pox, or poison ivy to avoid the treacherous hike. On Friday, though, Sadie is delighted to learn that Mount Sinai wasn’t actually very big. ‘God chose a small mountain to teach us that anyone can climb high enough to reach God,’ explains Rabbi Jamie. Sadie is easily able to join her classmates on the short hike up the hill behind the synagogue, and they enjoy a picnic at the top. The lively, colorful illustrations depict a contemporary Jewish preschool with boys and girls, and the teacher and rabbi, both female, wearing head coverings. One of the most neglected Jewish holidays finally gets its due in this fun, innovative, and charming sequel to Korngold’s Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast.”—School Library Journal

AJL Newsletter

“Sadie’s synagogue preschool is spending the week preparing for Shavuot, the culmination of which will be a mountain hike, similar to Moshe ascending Mount Sinai. Sadie does not like hiking, and as the class makes walking sticks, learns the Ten Commandments, and makes blintzes, Sadie imagines getting sick with different ailments so she won’t have to go. When the fateful day arrives, Rabbi Jamie, the hike leader, shows her that the mountain is not so big (it’s the hill behind the school). She explains to Sadie that Mount Sinai was not the biggest mountain, either, because God wanted to ‘teach us that anyone can climb high enough to reach God.’

Written by the ‘Adventure Rabbi,’ whose daughter is named Sadie – of Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast (Kar-Ben, 2011) – the book is obviously autobiographical as the anticipation of facing a fear is combined with the Jewish holiday. The story works well, both in terms of integrating the aspects of Shavuot and the need to prepare both spiritually and physically for a Jewish holiday. The narrative stays true to the age level. The illustrations are colorful and expressive, particularly a very pink bedroom and Sadie’s ‘imagination bubbles.’ The female pre-school teacher and Rabbi Jamie both wear kippot, as do some of the boys and girls. That, with the idea of ‘climbing high enough to reach God,’ makes this a recommended title for non-Orthodox libraries serving pre-school (ages three to five) patrons. "—Association of Jewish Libraries

Feathered Quill

“’Nursery school was lots of fun and Sadie smiled as she filed into Temple Beth El with her friends. There were lots of things to do and she “loved the Hebrew songs they sang during music,’ playing with blocks, climbing on the gym, and stacking up the building blocks. The thing she loved the most was her teacher, Morah Sarah. During circle time she announced that Shavuot was coming up and told them that it was ‘the day the Jewish people received the Ten Commandments.’

It was the big day that Moses climbed all the way up Mt. Sinai and didn’t come back down for forty days. Oh, and he ‘was carrying two tablets with God’s law.’ Morah Sarah told them that they’d start preparing for Shavuot and when they had completed all their activities Rabbi Jamie would guide them on their own hike up on their ‘own Mt. Sinai.’ Sadie put her hand to her mouth and started to get concerned. Mt. Sinai was a BIG mountain and there was no way she could hike up there … besides, she couldn’t stand hiking. How could she possibly get out of climbing that mountain?

Naturally many small children take things literally and Sadie was no exception. Climbing Mt. Sinai absolutely petrified her and she was positive she’d be direly ill by the end of the week, but she eventually realized that ‘anyone can climb high enough to reach God.’ I especially enjoyed seeing how Morah Sarah prepared the children for Shavuot by creating walking sticks, teaching them the Commandments, and making blintzes. The artwork meshes well with the tale and captures both the excitement of the holiday and Sadie’s trepidation. This would be an excellent book to use to begin a young child’s religious education or to read during circle or story time!”—The Feathered Quill

Quill says: This is an adorable story about Sadie, a little girl who is afraid of climbing “Mt. Sinai.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A week-long unit on the holiday of Shavuot has one preschool class excitedly anticipating a planned reenactment of the hike Moses took up Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

Resourceful Sadie, of Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast (2011), enjoys attending her temple preschool with its songs, play equipment and teacher, Morah Sarah. But when the idea of a hike is introduced as the culmination of the week’s focus, the Shavuot celebration, Sadie hates the idea. ‘Her hiking boots always hurt her feet. Her backpack was always too heavy. And there were never enough snacks.’ As the week progresses, the children create their own walking sticks, learn about the Ten Commandments and make the traditional blintzes. Meanwhile, Sadie’s anxiety builds. She tells herself she will not have to hike if she comes down with chicken pox, contracts poison ivy or just catches the flu. However, Friday morning delivers a healthy but nervous Sadie, whose reluctance is finally assuaged by Rabbi Jamie with assurances that the small, easy-to-climb hill behind the temple grounds is the perfect place to recreate the symbolic hike. Detailed and colorful illustrations depicting a modern, female-led nursery program and a little girl’s fretful qualms artfully flesh out this reasonably intriguing story with its ultimate message of reaching God.

There are not many books that treat with this holiday; how fortunate that this is such a strong one.” —Kirkus Reviews