cover image One Small Spark: A Tikkun Olam Story

One Small Spark: A Tikkun Olam Story

Ruth Spiro, illus. by Victoria Tentler-Krylov. Dial, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-3991-8631-8

A playground in a busy metropolitan neighborhood has fallen into disrepair, and most residents walk briskly by its gates. But one child holds up a finger, telling their adult caretaker to wait, and in that decisive moment becomes surrounded by birds and sparkles. As the child rallies their class and local businesses, more fanciful elements appear around the movement’s new members, showing how “one person can’t do everything,/ but everyone can do one thing./ Which may lead to another.” Tentler-Krylov (I’m Gonna Paint), ever an exuberant, choreographic chronicler of city life, fills digitally enhanced watercolor spreads with bright colors and a host of energized, roll-up-their-sleeves characters, portrayed with various abilities and skin tones, who not only rejuvenate their public space but make new and deeper connections with each other as they do so. Spiro (Love Grows) doesn’t directly name the Jewish concept of tikkum olam—Hebrew for “repair the world”—until the very end of the work’s blank verse text, which nevertheless vividly evokes the concept’s galvanizing power throughout: “even the tiniest spark/ will flicker and dance until/ it’s impossible to ignore.” An author’s note further explores the idea, explaining that “many faiths share these teachings and traditions.” Ages 4–8. (Aug.)