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THE PURIM SURPRISE

Lesley Simpson, Author, Peter Church, Illustrator
Lesley Simpson, Author, Peter Church, Illustrator , illus. by Peter Church. Lerner/Kar-Ben $6.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58013-090-5
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Naomi and her mother have just moved to a new town where they don't know anyone, and Naomi's mom can persuade her to deliver shalach manot (gifts of food traditionally delivered on Purim) to total strangers only by promising Naomi she can stay up late to bake hamantaschen (the pastry traditionally eaten on Purim). Naomi's mom certainly seems to understand the importance of turning things upside-down, one of the principles of Purim: she says shopping for Purim candy is more important than unpacking the boxes, and she dresses up as the Queen of Hearts to hear the megillah read at the synagogue. But would she really forget that Naomi's seventh birthday falls on Purim this year? While predictable, Simpson's (The Shabbat Box ) story illustrates the traditions associated with the holiday, and an afterword explains its biblical and historical roots. Unfortunately, Church's tidy art accentuates the improbable elements of the plot: Naomi's mom creates impossibly perfect impromptu costumes and decorations, and every detail of the surprise birthday party that materializes for Naomi looks like it's been painstakingly crafted by experts. Ages 3-8. (Jan.)

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