Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale
2018 Sydney Taylor Notable Picture Book
How does Big Sam make a GIANT-sized challah for Rosh Hashanah?
He digs an enormous hole in the ground to use as a mixing bowl. (It's still there today — we call it the Grand Canyon.)
He adds mountains of flour, thousands of eggs, and other good things.
He whittles a massive California redwood tree into a mixing spoon. He flattens the hills of West Texas as he kneads the dough. And he bakes it inside Mount Saint Helens.
But when it's time to celebrate the holiday, the eagles call out, "Not so fast, Big Sam!" Rosh Hashanah is about fixing the world, and Big Sam has some MAJOR cleaning up to do.
About the Author
Eric A. Kimmel is the author of more than a hundred books for children, including the classic Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins and more recently Little Red Rosie: A Rosh Hashanah Story. He is the only author to have won the National Jewish Book Award five times — for The Chanukkah Guest, The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story, Wonders & Miracles: A Passover Companion, The Golem's Latkes, and Hanukkah Bear. The Association of Jewish Libraries has awarded him the Sydney Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award.
About the Illustrator
Jim Starr graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Illustration. He illustrates for numerous editorial, advertising, and corporate clients; his most recognizable image is the mill in the Pepperidge Farm logo. His work has appeared in Print magazine, the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition, and the Washington DC Illustrators Club Exhibition. This is his first picture book.
"Big Sam is the rollicking Jewish answer to Paul Bunyan. When Rosh Hashanah comes around, he digs a big hole (today’s Grand Canyon) in which he begins to mix up a challah recipe. He whittles a California redwood tree into a mixing spoon, and when the dough is finished, he sets it to rise in Yellowstone Park, where the geysers keep the ground warm and steamy. The challah finishes baking right on schedule for the holiday, but wait—not so fast. Time for a little tikkun olam. Big Sam’s baking has left a giant-sized mess, with trampled fields, dammed-up rivers, and the like. Now he must put the world to right again, which he does, just in time to see in the new year with his friends. This book is nothing but pure fun from beginning to end, with a gentle environmental lesson thrown in. Kimmel’s tall tale is perfect for reading aloud, and soft, evocative illustrations that show the grandeur of an old-time American landscape are a perfect match. A cross-country map of the country as endpaper is a bonus. Matching Rosh Hashanah with an appreciation of the natural world is an inspired choice."
-Jewish Book Council