On Friday Afternoon
Michal Babay, author
Michal Babay is a former teacher and elementary school resource specialist who decided to follow her writing dreams. She is the author of I'm a Gluten Sniffing Service Dog and The Incredible Shrinking Lunchroom and lives in California with her husband, three kids, three dogs, one cat, and a bearded dragon named Gus Pirate Potato.
Read more about Michal.
Menahem Halberstadt, illustrator
Menahem Halberstadt is a freelance illustrator, art director, and cartoonist. He has illustrated many books for young readers and lives in Israel with his wife and children.
Read more about Menahem.
- Coming soon!
Young Leelee and her dog, Pickles, prepare for Shabbat one busy Friday afternoon.
With the spiraling structure of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), the book follows the duo from one activity to the next. Leelee and Pickles must clean up the crumbs they dropped while eating challah, which leads to them finding loose change under the couch. They decide to donate the money, but the tzedakah boxes are full, so Leelee empties out a flowerpot to use instead. Onomatopoeic interjections, encouraging a read-aloud experience, are included throughout, beginning with the simple clink of a coin and escalating to the “Pah! Bah-bah! Rah!” of a trombone that Leelee finds when searching for a shoe. This discovery leads, naturally, to a parade through the street, with Leelee and Pickles inviting the neighbors and friends they meet home for dinner. The penultimate spread calms both characters and readers with the sights and sounds of candle-lighting before the Shabbat meal begins. Expressive cartoon illustrations depict a brown-haired, olive-skinned Jewish family enjoying a loving, if hectic, afternoon. A close-up of detritus under the couch and a long shot of a mother putting on earrings in a mostly tidy house convey the dynamism of the scene; Leelee’s curly pigtails bring an enormous energy all their own. Repetition and mounting lists create a propulsive rhythm as sunset grows nearer. Leelee’s community is a diverse one.
Warm and lovely. (author’s note)
Sundown is only a few hours away, and young Leelee and dog Pickles are theoretically helping their family prepare for Shabbat. Animation-style digital artwork by Halberstadt ([em]A Basket Full of Figs[/em]) tells a different story, however. As the pair moves from room to room, they leave a mess in their wake—crumbs from taste-tested challah rolls, and detritus around a newly decorated tzedakah container. But between the time crunch and the anticipation (soon, “there are only ten minutes until candle lighting”), arriving guests—led into the house via procession by Leelee and Pickles—immediately lend a hand. “A cousin adds flavorful food to the table.... Friends dig up extra chairs, plates, and glasses.... Mom watches over the roast and the kugel, and everyone watches the clock,” writes Babay (The Incredible Shrinking Lunchroom). At last, sundown arrives, and with Leelee at her side, Mom strikes a match to light the Shabbat candles, and text wishes “Shabbat Shalom.” While the reason why all the preparations must be completed by sundown is never fully explained, the eager-eyed characters, portrayed with various skin tones, sweetly convey gifts of shared ritual, connection, and gratitude. An author’s note concludes. Ages 5–8.
Page count: 32
11 x 81/2
Publication date: April 30, 2024