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What a Way to Start a New Year!

A Rosh Hashanah Story

What a Way to Start a New Year!
Jacqueline Jules By (author)
Judy Stead Illustrated by
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

9.5 X 9.8 in
24 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Jewish
JUVENILE FICTION / Holidays & Celebrations / Other, Religious
JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Jewish


Beginning the New Year in a new city isn’t easy, and it definitely isn’t starting out very well for Dina and her family! But when they’re welcomed by warm and generous hosts in their new community it becomes a very happy New Year for all.


"Starting the Jewish New Year in a new city without friends or extended relatives is tough for Harry and his family, until the generous welcome by their new community known as the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim makes a significant difference.

Not yet unpacked and with no plans for Rosh Hashana, the family remembers that their old neighbors, the Kaplans, only two hours away, invited them. The transplanted family piles into the car for the trip, but before the ride even begins, unexpected events lead to delays and alter their plans. Baby’s diaper needs changing, then Mom locks herself out of the house. Dad comes with keys, but one flat tire and tow-truck rescue later, it is too late to travel, and the family returns to their moving boxes and thoroughly un–holiday-ready new home. 'What a way to start a new year!' Through the disappointment, Dad works on a new plan: to join his officemate at Temple Shalom for the evening service, which leads to a family dinner invitation and an opportunity to meet and make new friends. 'What a WONDERFUL way to start a new year!' It's a situation many contemporary families can relate to, and Stead's bright, multimedia illustrations track the emotional arc. A useful addition to the Rosh Hashana shelf. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)" --Kirkus ReviewsJournal

"Award-winning author Jacqueline Jules’ What a Way to Start a New Year! is a lighthearted and authentic story for Rosh Hashanah that reflects the diversity of today’s Jewish families and the hustle and bustle of daily life.

In the opening pages, a perky young girl is eating a slice of pizza in her family’s new home, which is filled with unpacked boxes. Her family, including two younger brothers, has just moved to a new town. While her dad isn’t Jewish, he loves celebrating the High Holidays. But how will they observe the New Year, our storyteller wonders with some concern.

When they venture back to their old neighborhood to share a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal with their friends, one plan after another goes awry. 'What a way to start a new year!' they each sigh after mishap follows zany mishap.

Things begin to look up when one of dad’s co-workers invites them to synagogue services. While the prayers and songs are familiar, the kids still feel out of place because they don’t recognize anyone.

Finally they are welcomed to share Rosh Hashanah dinner with new friends. 'What a wonderful way to start a new year!' the young girl exclaims.

Judy Stead’s brightly colored, cartoon-like illustrations are a lively accompaniment to the story. An author’s note reminds parents that while starting in a new home or school can be difficult, it’s made easier by generous hosts. She explains the mitzvah of 'hachnasat orchim,' 'welcoming guests.' " --Arizona Jewish PostNewspaper

Author Bio

Jacqueline Jules is the award-winning author of 25 children's books, including No English (2012 Forward National Literature Award), Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off (2010 CYBILS Literary Award, Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Honor Award, ALSC Great Early Elementary Reads), and Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash (named on 2013 List of Best Children's Books of the Year by Bank Street College Committee). When not reading, writing, or teaching, Jacqueline enjoys time with her family in Northern Virginia.

In college, I majored in my two favorite subjects, reading and drawing, which has proved to be an endlessly useful combination for making picture books. So far, I've illustrated 11 books (one of which I also wrote) plus lots of ancillary educational pieces. A good day is painting an assignment in photoshop for awhile, then painting for myself in oil paint, with npr and cat Rufus for company.