SAM & SOPHIE
By: Kerry Olitzky
Illustrated by: Jen Hernandez
Published: March 5, 2021
Publisher: Higher Ground Books and Media
Sam has a brand new baby sister and he gets to help his dad plant a tree in her honor. Planting a tree in honor of a child is a common Jewish tradition. Cedar trees are usually planted for boys and cypress trees for girls. The tree grows alongside the child and when he or she becomes an adult, the branches and wood are used to make the Chuppah, or wedding canopy, for their wedding ceremony.
Sam, however, isn’t too happy about his new sister. There have been too many changes in his house. He and his mom were supposed to make cookies and instead, all they could do was make the place and bake ones because it would wake up his sister. He can’t make too much noise or he will wake his sister. He doesn’t get very much one on one time with his parents either. At night, when he says his nightly prayers, he decides not to add his sister to his prayers. When Sophie wakes up sick one morning, Sam realizes just how special his little sister is.
I have to admit, I found the illustrations a bit interesting. I believe they are computer illustrations, but in some cases, there was an actual picture image added to the illustration, so on the page, the image stood out over the regular illustrations. It just seemed odd. I was sent a PDF copy of the book, so maybe the print version is different.
Even though this story is part of a Jewish tradition, it has an important message for kids that have a new sibling. Kids are reminded that there will be changes and adjustments, but having a new sister or brother really isn’t all that bad. Your family may decide to add the tradition of planting a tree for your children too.
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky is the author of over 75 books and hundreds of articles in a variety of fields. Check out his website, HERE.