cover image For Heaven's Sake

For Heaven's Sake

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. Jewish Lights Publishing, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58023-054-4

Like The Heavenly Village and The Children's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Heaven (both reviewed below), this thoughtful, honest picture book offers answers to the question ""What is heaven?"" Sasso--a rabbi and the author of such picture books as In God's Name (see Notes)--works in concert with a young reader's imagination: her approach is firmly grounded yet sensitive, responding to a child's concerns while leaving room for personal interpretation. Her protagonist, Isaiah, hearing phrases like ""for heaven's sake,"" asks about heaven, but none of the answers he receives satisfies him. Finally, remembering that his grandfather was said to have gone to heaven after his death a few months earlier, Isaiah turns to his grandmother. She agrees to help him look for heaven, and takes him first to the soup kitchen where his grandfather had volunteered, then to story hour at the library and finally to a choir rehearsal. Isaiah has a good time, but doesn't understand, until Grandma explains: ""I think we can get close to heaven and to God in a place in our hearts. I feel there is a part of Grandpa in all the places and people we visited today, and a little bit of heaven, too."" Unfortunately, the delicacy of Sasso's delivery is not matched by debut illustrator Finney's literal-minded, often static compositions. She conveys Isaiah's internal journey by exaggerating everyone's facial expressions, so that what in the text seems organic becomes a series of tableaux. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)