Back-of-the-book blurb: While waiting for the bus, a man tells Baxter the pig about the joys of Shabbat dinner. But before Baxter can find out how he, too, can join in the fun, the man has boarded the bus. Soon after, Baxter learns that he certainly cannot be a part of Shabbat dinner because he’s not Kosher. So begins one pig’s misguided quest to become Kosher. Will Baxter succeed or will his dreams of taking part in Shabbat dinner remain unfulfilled? Readers will cheer as a series of misunderstandings leads to a warm message of welcome and community.
She Is Too Fond of Books’ review: Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher is a fun and funny book that follows the adventures of one special pig’s quest to become kosher. The mix-up begins when Baxter is told of a special day:
“Tonight is the beginning of Shabbat, the day of rest, and so we make a special dinner. We light candles, sing our thanks, and raise a glass, surrounded by those we love best.”
Baxter thinks Shabbat sounds wonderful, but is told that he – a pig – cannot be part of Shabbat dinner because he’s not kosher.
He queries people he meets on the street, and tries everything he can think of to become kosher – eating a jar of kosher pickles, gorging himself on kosher challah, even pretending to be a cow, because, after all, cows are kosher!
Finally, a very discouraged Baxter meets a kind rabbi who explains that although Baxter is not kosher to eat (and never will be!), “everyone is welcome at Shabbat dinner!” Baxter is invited to share in the joy of the candles, the singing, and the delicious kosher dinner.
We really enjoyed this delightful picture book! Laurel Snyder uses Baxter’s misunderstanding to teach the reader the wonder of Shabbat dinner - making a new friend, inviting him to supper, talking, listening, and singing together. My kids were familiar with some of the terms used in the story (and fully defined in the glossary), such as challah, mazel tov, rabbi, and shalom. They now have a fuller grasp ofkosher, kugel, and mitzvah, and understand that Shabbat is another word for the Sabbath.
David Goldin’s illustrations are a whimsical combination of photo collage and pen-and-ink drawings. My kids liked this combination of media, and were especially tickled with Baxter’s very exaggerated expressions!
I recommend Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher for the home library, as well as for inclusive school, church, and temple libraries. Although the concepts are related to Jewish traditions, it is not overtly religious; I consider it to be an excellent multicultural picture book.
FTC disclosure: review copy provided by the publisher