Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year 2020 Winner
"A series of kindhearted acts and good deeds by a community's residents illustrates how the world can be a better place.The opening narrative offers a more nuanced and expansive translation of the basic Hebrew idiom than is noted in the subtitle. 'It's everything. It's all. It's whole. / Entire. The Most. In Hebrew, it's kol.… / And what's kavod? It's gee! It's wow. / It's honor, respect. It's whoa, holy cow!' The two Hebrew words put together literally translate to "all respect," making it a powerful message to acknowledge when something good and important is achieved. Various scenarios follow this introduction, depicting a harmonious community of children performing simple altruistic acts that summon a 'Kol Hakavod!' Such acts as giving up a seat on the subway for an elderly person, feeding the dog, recycling, giving money to charity, visiting an ailing friend, inviting a new classmate to sit with you, and so on may seem minor but will produce major goodwill. The text rhymes—a little unevenly—and is illustrated with cartoon figures colored digitally (sometimes with bits of fabric swatches that add interest). The cast is made up of an assortment of races and ages, and one child uses a wheelchair. The message is clear: How one conducts oneself throughout life is important—at school, in the community, and beyond.This expression of a core Jewish value should resonate with readers of all ethnic groups and faiths. (Picture book. 4-7)"―Kirkus Reviews —Journal
A child who attends synagogue with his/her parents or travels to Israel may hear the congregation say, “Kol HaKavod,” but not know what the Hebrew expression means. This rhyming picture book explains the phrase using scenarios that a youngster can relate to, along with sweet, helpful, colorful illustrations.
The book begins by defining each Hebrew word. Kol means, “everything. It’s all. It’s whole.” While kavod translates to, “…gee! It’s wow. It’s honor, respect. It’s whoa, holy cow.” The next page defines the two words together, putting them into a phrase that literally means “all respect” and denotes honor. The remainder of the book illustrates, in both words and pictures, examples from a child’s life which merit a shout out of “Kol HaKavod.”
The good deeds mentioned include everything from giving up a seat on the subway, to helping a pregnant woman, feeding a pet, recycling, or putting money in the tzedekah (charity) box. They also illustrate showing kindness to classmates, like asking “someone new, who’s sitting alone, to color with you,” as well as helping around the house by cleaning up without disturbing a sleeping mother.
Each relatable example is accompanied by a cartoon illustration with a diverse cast of children and adults in many shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, and includes one picture of a child in a wheelchair.
Author Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh and illustrator Sarah-Jayne Mercer relay the importance of kind actions, no matter how small, through simple language and engaging illustrations, which capture the attention of young children. Parents, grandparents, babysitters, older siblings, teachers, and other caring adults, will also enjoy reading this book aloud with its onomatopoeia, alliteration and rhyming couplets that tickle the tongue.—Website
"Rhyming text introduces readers to the Hebrew expression Kol Hakavod. The literal translation is 'all respect,' but it really means so much more. Kiffel-Alcheh describes it this way: 'It's everything. It's all. It's whole./Entire. The Most. In Hebrew, it's kol.' 'And what's kavod? It's gee! It's wow./It's honor, respect. It's whoa, holy cow!' Double page images show different ways that children can earn this praise: giving up their seat on the subway to a pregnant woman or elderly person, picking up trash, putting money in the tzedakah (charity) box, visiting a sick friend, showing kindness to animals, sharing, teaching someone something new, and many more. The illustrations are realistic, textured, and expressive and depict a contemporary, mostly urban setting. While the examples presented, as well as the overall message that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference, are certainly universal, the phrase Kol Hakavod isn't typically heard outside of religious settings. VERDICT Educators in Jewish schools and synagogues can pair this newest offering with It's a— It's a— It's a Mitzvah! by Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman, Moti the Mitzvah Mouse by Vivian Newman, and One Good Deed by Terri Fields to inspire students to perform gemilut hasidim, acts of loving kindness."—School Library Journal—Journal
What is "kavod"? It's "gee!" It's "wow."
It's honor, respect. It's "whoa, holy cow!"
Even the littlest acts of kindness and the smallest good deeds can be hugely important in the world.
Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh regularly writes for National Geographic KIDS. Her many books include Hard Hat Cat, Kol Hakavod: Way to Go!, A Hoopoe says Oop!, Rah! Rah! Mujadara, Can You Hear a Coo, Coo? and Listen! Israel's All Around. She is also a lyricist for pop songs, advertisements and motion pictures. She lives in Burbank, California.
Sarah-Jayne Mercer is a freelance illustrator who works from her home in the riverside town of Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, UK. She completed her illustration degree at Lincoln University and an M.A. in Authorial Illustration at University College Falmouth.