Measuring a Year: A Rosh Hashanah Story
Linda Elovitz Marshall’s spare text pairs well with Hoang’s detailed illustrations to show young readers the many ways a year can be measured, from big events to small. First the question is asked: How do you measure a year?
“Through pictures, stories,
things you made,
kids you met,
or places stayed?”
Each question provides its own answer–yes, these are all ways to measure a year, beyond checking off days on a calendar. A year is first of all lived and experienced, and the short text packs in a lot of ways a year can pass.
The art shows holidays not explicitly mentioned by the text, from Sukkot to Purim, with a wide range of families of all skin tones and ethnicities. Happy memories are made and shared in a rich variety of ways, showing the many things that happen in one year and how to celebrate the sweetness of a new one, full of new opportunities. Children will linger over the details, from the stories pinned to the wall as part of “things you made” to the fun costumes worn during:
“Times when everything was right
and everyone had fun?”
The book ends with wishes for a sweet New Year, a good way to show how we can all start measuring again. Turning the last page feels like dipping an apple into honey and taking that first tartly sweet bite.
The backmatter has a quick explanation of how the Jewish new year gives us a chance to “measure” ourselves, to:
“think of past mistakes, apologize, push the ‘reset button, and begin (once again) to be better.”
It’s not heavy-handed, but just the right light touch for a young audience. Measuring a Year is a good introduction to Rosh Hashana for non-Jews and a sweetly comforting story of what a year can mean for those celebrating the holiday.