Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Toddler Spring Time Picks

To welcome the flowers blooming in Israel this year, we added two Hebrew language books to our library:

“Six in a Little Bag” (ששה בשקיק אחד) by Levin Kipnis (לוין קיפניס) and “Hannan the Gardner” (חנן הגנן) by Rinat Hoffer (רינת הופר).

Six in a Little Bag (ששה בשקיק אחד)

ששה בשקיק אחד by Levin Kipnis (לוין קיפניס)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Mr. Kipnis was a highly prolific Israeli children’s author and “Six in a Little Bag” is the classic Israeli children’s book for Tu Bishvat / Tu B’Shevat (טו בשבט), the Jewish holiday celebrating the new year for trees. The book begins with a boy, Gili, losing his bag as it blows out the window of his home. Unbeknownst to Gili, various anthropomorphized nuts and fruit that are commonly eaten in Israel for Tu Bishvat climb into the bag. The next day, Gili is delighted to recover his bag and discover that it is filled with these Tu Bishvat treats. The book uses repetition, rhyme, and nonsense words to introduce each nut and fruit (almond, date palm, carob, fig, banana, and orange). The pictures are painted in a mid-20th century style of Israeli illustration. The illustrations of Gili’s clothing and house also charmingly reflect the way of life in the early establishment of Israel.

Hannan the Gardner (חנן הגנן)

חנן הגנן by Rinat Hoffer (רינת הופר)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Ms. Hoffer is a modern Israeli author and illustrator. With repetition and rhyme, the book follows Hannan the Gardner as he sells fruit to children, promising that each fruit contains a “treasure.” The children are surprised to discover that the “treasures” are heart-shaped seeds. Hanan and the children then plant the seeds, which grow into heart-shaped trees of many colors brimming with fruit. Ms. Hoffer’s pictures are brightly-colored and modern and reflect the high level of illustration currently being produced in Israel.

Bilingual Benefit

Both books are highly repetitive and, thus, perfect for a toddler. Our toddler lil guy enjoys helping us to narrate both books and he especially enjoys the use of rhyming, nonsense adjectives to describe each nut and fruit in “Six in a Bag.” “Six in a Bag” is perfect for toddlers (ages 2 to 3), while “Hannan the Gardner” can also be appreciated by older kids (ages 2 to 5). Due to the repetitiveness in both books, I would rate the Hebrew as easy to follow for a non-native Hebrew speaker parent with at least an introductory ulpan level Hebrew (i.e., some knowledge of modern Hebrew beyond the Bar/Bat Mitzvah). The only caveat to this assessment is that “Six in a Bag” does have some words that are not currently used that often in Hebrew in Israel.

Availability in Israel and Abroad

Both books, which are widely read in homes and preschools in Israel, can be found easily here in the major and independent bookstores. Unfortunately, neither book seems to be readily available abroad. I am also not aware of any translations of the books into English.

See all my reviews of books available in Hebrew and in Israel.

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