The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever
It’s almost Sukkot, and Micah and his family are heading to Farmer Jared’s pumpkin patch. Micah wants to find the very best pumpkin to decorate his family’s sukkah, but Farmer Jared says his pumpkins can also go to a soup kitchen, to feed people who need a good meal. What will Micah decide to do with the best Sukkot pumpkin ever?
|Interest Level||Preschool - Grade 3|
|Reading Level||Grade 1|
|Genre||Fiction, Picture Books|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®, Lerner Digital ™|
|Number of Pages||32|
“Micah and his family arrive at Farmer Jared’s pumpkin patch in search of the perfect pumpkin for their
family’s sukkah (a temporary shelter erected for the week-long Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot). Jared
explains that many of the pumpkins he grows will be donated to a local soup kitchen, and Dad reminds his
son that tikkun olam (helping others) is an important tenant of their faith. Micah has a hard time deciding
which pumpkins to donate and which one to keep, but eventually he settles on a few small seeds from a
mushy pumpkin in the compost pile, knowing that they will grow into perfect pumpkins next year.
Madden’s colorful, cartoon-style artwork effectively conveys the story’s message and features accurate
details. While most young children will likely not be as selfless as Micah, he does leave the farm feeling
good about his choice. Appended with a note about Sukkot and a list of tikkun olam activities for families,
this will find a niche in religious schools.”—Booklist
Association of Jewish Libraries
“Micah visits a pumpkin patch with his family on a mission to find ‘the best pumpkin ever’ for Sukkot. Upon arrival, he learns from the farmer the value of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and that the pumpkins he finds can be donated to feed people in need at a soup kitchen. The farmer’s words stick with Micah and, as he works hard to find fabulous pumpkins, he overcomes his urge to keep them. Instead, his biggest pumpkin will be a decoration at the soup kitchen, his smallest pumpkin will make soup, and an overripe pumpkin can become compost. But Micah proclaims he has still found ‘the best pumpkin,’ revealing a handful of seeds he stashed in his pocket in order to have the best pumpkins ever for next year. This simple tale of selflessness and charitable acts makes a nice addition to a Sukkot collection. The endnotes include brief information on the the Jewish harvest holiday, as well as basic family activities for Tikkun Olam.”—Association of Jewish Libraries
“Many families from Micah’s synagogue are picking pumpkins for a soup kitchen. Micah asks his mother, ’What’s a soup kitchen?’ She explains, and his dad adds the definition of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of doing good deeds, or ‘repairing the world.’ As a reward for their good work, each child will receive a pumpkin. Micah wants to find a large one for Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival. After picking pumpkins all day, he finally gets ready to choose, but when he finds a gigantic one, he remembers the soup kitchen. Farmer Jared gently tells him that the big pumpkins are not good for cooking but can be used to make ‘a wonderful decoration.’ The boy finds ‘a perfect little pumpkin’ and dreams of his Sukkot meal but realizes that his family has enough food and other people need the perfect pumpkin more than he does. He adds it to the donations and accidentally steps on a rotten pumpkin. As the farmer explains that this pumpkin will serve as compost, Micah discovers the best pumpkin of all—the seeds to grow his own—’for next year.’ Micah and his family are white, but there are Asian and black synagogue members. There are few details about the celebration, but the colorful paintings are humorous and show the sukkah with its harvest decorations. A simple Sukkot story that focuses on the concept of helping those in need.”—Kirkus Reviews
Jewish Book Council
—"Micah is excited to be visiting the pumpkin patch with his parents and other families from their synagogue. Farmer Jared tells Micah that they will be picking pumpkins to donate to the soup kitchen. Micah’s dad adds that ‘When we help others like that, we’re taking part in tikkun olam, repairing the world.’ Micah imagines how the pumpkins will help feed the hungry. Farmer Jared tells the children that they can each pick out a pumpkin to take home, too. Micah decides he will save his pumpkin for Sukkot. Although he collects pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and textures for the soup kitchen, when Micah finally finds the pumpkin he wants to bring home, it is so large and heavy that he enlists three friends to help him roll it to the truck. However, when Micah remembers the soup kitchen, he offers the extra-large pumpkin to Farmer Jared who tells him that although the pumpkin is too large for cooking, it will make a wonderful decoration for the soup kitchen. Satisfied, Micah then picks ‘a perfect little pumpkin, the best Sukkot pumpkin ever’ to take home instead. When he thinks of the pumpkin dishes his family eats on Sukkot, he feels very lucky and decides to donate this pumpkin to the soup kitchen, too. When Micah steps on a rotten pumpkin, Farmer Jared explains that it will ‘breakdown into compost and feed the soil next spring.’ Micah scoops up a handful of its seeds and decides that he will plant his own pumpkins to have for Sukkot next year.
Enhanced by colorful, cheery illustrations, The Best Sukkot Pumpkin Ever depicts the importance of sharing and giving to those in need. The author provides an ‘About Sukkot’ page which details the meaning of the word, what the holiday is about, and ways Jewish families celebrate. Also included is a list featuring several suggested Tikkun Olam activities such as volunteering and donating.
Recommended for ages 3 to 8."—Jewish Book Council
Author: Laya Steinberg
Laya Steinberg, author of two other award-winning picture books, teaches art and design to high school students, tends a community garden, and works in her basement pottery studio. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts, with family.
Illustrator: Colleen Madden
Colleen Madden has illustrated many children's books. When she's not drawing and daydreaming, she's out chasing chipmunks on a trail, learning how to make socks, and eating lots and lots of sushi. She lives near Philadelphia.