Underpants and heroes

Angela Kiverstein's monthly round up of children's books.


Everyone Loves Underpants, as Claire Freedman and Ben Cort can confirm. Their picture-book series, in which nether garments are prominently paraded, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a World Book Day edition (Simon & Schuster, £1). And there are pants aplenty here — hilariously patterned, oversized, improbably sported by dinosaurs and monsters, sent into space and used as trampolines. Even the word “underpants” is friendly and pronounceable for learner readers, while their comic qualities and elastic rhyme-ability endear them to readers up to age eight.

When Izzy and Olivia Bloom invite friends for a Friday-night meal, everyone is shocked to find the Blooms do not light Shabbat candles. Until they find themselves sitting Under the Sabbath Lamp (Kar-Ben, £6.99). Michael Herman’s story tells how the antique oil fitting, used instead of candlesticks, was handed down from great-great-grandfather Isaac. When he set out for a new life in America, he took part of the lamp and, as his family joined him, each brought another piece, reassembling it. Alida Massari’s drawings of family life past and present have a dolls’-house cuteness. Age five to seven.

In 1967, Motti is still a schoolboy. His biggest worry, at the opening of Tammar Stein’s The Six-Day Hero (Kar-Ben, £8), is having accidentally drunk his father’s Coca-Cola, a treat we are told has only just become available in Israel, in defiance of the Arab League. Stein builds up a child’s-eye picture of Jerusalem, complete with Bazooka gum and stray cats and a handsome 19-year-old soldier brother. She is equally good at sketching the political situation that led to war — a challenge in a book for 11-to-14-year-olds. By the time Motti faces his make-or-break moment, even readers born well after 1967 will feel themselves there with him.

What if your ex-boyfriend, Theo, died and left you to hang out with this other guy who, by the way, was your successor in Theo’s affections? The only thing you have left of your beloved is memories — those, and a crippling obsession with even numbers. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (£7.99) is classic YA in the David Levithan mode, intellectual, introspective, touching upon God, parallel universes, coconut hot chocolate with caramel and Harry Potter, the stuff young adults thrive on. Age 16 up (sensitive content).

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive