The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story

by Jacqueline Jules

Other authorsKatherine Kahn (Illustrator)
Book, 2001



Call number

E 240 JUL



Rockville, MD : Kar-Ben Copies, 2001.


The Ziz, a huge bird that is clumsy but good-hearted, accidentally destroys a vegetable garden, and when he asks God for advice he learns the importance of apologizing.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The Ziz, a fabled bird from Jewish folklore said to be so large his wings could block out the sun, accidentally destroys a children's vegetable garden when he isn't looking where he is going one day. Although sometimes clumsy, he is never malicious, and is immediately worried by the fact that he
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has ruined the garden - a mistake he can't put right. Seeking advice from God, the Ziz is instructed to search the world for the hardest word, but although he flies back and forth, and returns with many difficult words, he can't seem to find the right one. Admitting defeat, he says "sorry," thereby discovering the hardest word, and a tool he can use to make restitution for the harm he has caused...

Based upon the Hasidic legend The Tear of Repentance, The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story offers an entertaining and ultimately heartwarming examination of the central theme of Yom Kippur: repentance and restitution for one's wrongdoing. Author Jacqueline Jules' story is engaging, and is presented in a way that will be relatable for children (and perhaps also adults), many of whom do indeed find saying "sorry" to be difficult. The accompanying artwork from illustrator Katherine Janus Kahn, who is also responsible for the illustrations in the Sammy Spider series about the Jewish holidays, is bright and appealing. I liked the use of color here, and the incorporation of words into the visuals, in the later scenes in the book. Apparently this title was selected by the PJ Library, a non-profit organization that sends free Jewish-themed children's books to Jewish families in the US, Canada and more than a dozen other countries, as part of their collection. This program, inspired by Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which has sent over 100 million free books to needy children since its inception.

Both sound like worthy projects indeed! The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story is one I would Recommend to picture-book readers looking for Yom Kippur stories. It could also be used as a Sukkot story, as the vegetables in the garden are intended for the children's sukkahs.
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1580130283 / 9781580130288

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