Sammy Spider’s First Simchat Torah, by Sylvia A. Rouss


Within the first month of the Jewish year, there are four holidays that follow closely on one another. Simchat Torah is the last of these, following immediately after Succhot. Simchat Torah is a joyful holiday in which the reading of the Torah ends for one year and goes back to the beginning. Sammy Spider is a well-known character to Jewish pre-schoolers as he has eavesdropped on all of Josh Shapiro’s holiday celebrations in a series of colorfully illustrated books. Although Sammy cannot read the books Josh’s parents share with him, he can listen (along with your children) to Mr. Shapiro’s explanation of the holiday and hope, along with Josh, that Mr. Shapiro will read the book again. The highly stylized collage-like illustrations manage to convey the joy and energy of the Simchat Torah parade. Parents hold torah scrolls and children carry small Israeli flags topped by candied apples, a symbol of the sweetness of torah learning. The candied apple is Sammy’s downfall. Curious Sammy gets stuck in the candy and rides, unnoticed, through the Simchat Torah celebration. When Sammy gets home, his sticky feet damage his mother’s web. She clucks in a maternal way and repairs the damage. Both arachnid and human parents are loving and the story of the spider celebrating the Jewish holiday will entertain youngsters. A good choice for collections looking to expand their books relating to Jewish holidays. Paperback, 32 pages, isbn 9780761339663

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