cover image Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale

Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale

Eric A. Kimmel, illus. by Jim Starr. Apples & Honey, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68115-525-8

Paul Bunyan gets some competition in a story that introduces Big Sam, a towering Jewish man who digs the Grand Canyon to create a mixing bowl to make challah for Rosh Hashanah. In his first picture book, Starr brings an appropriately cinematic look to the pages as Big Sam carves a spoon from a California redwood, lets the dough rise in the geysers of Yellowstone, and holds up a fallen railroad bridge to allow trains through (including the one carrying two boxcars’ worth of poppy seeds that he needs). Kimmel (Little Red Rosie) tells the story leisurely, having fun with the ways Big Sam uses American landmarks in his baking. In a neat merging of the concept of tikkun olam and an environmental message, Big Sam repairs some of the havoc his actions have caused after a pair of bald eagles bring it to his attention. Closing cameos from Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and other legendary figures (someone has to eat all that challah) show just how well a Jewish hero fits into the American folktale landscape. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)