The Purim Superhero
By Elizabeth Kushner; illustrated by Mike Byrne
Nate loves aliens. But all the other boys in his class are going to dress up as superheroes to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. At home, Nate's Abba and Daddy ask him what he wants to be. But Nate isn't sure, he doesn't want to be the odd one out. Abba tells Nate that not all boys have to be the same. Like Purim, differences can be a good thing - Queen Esther saved the Jews of Persia from Haman because she didn't hide who she was to King Ahashuerus.
Nate isn't sure, he thought being different would make him lonely not stronger. But soon Nate learns you can make up your own superheroes, who are brave and strong on outside and inside, like Queen Esther.
Surprise! With the help of his family, Nate makes his costume. Abba sews and Daddy buys props, sister Miri writes the words.They go to synagogue to listen to the reading of the Megillah. And Nate is revealed to be a Super Alien! His classmates are very impressed and decide that next Purim they should be whatever they want.
What we like about it
This lovely picture book is bright and bold with attractive illustrations. It explores the story of Purim by cleverly linking it to Nate's everyday experiences. Linking religious tradition with contemporary interests. Nate's Abba, Daddy and sister Miri are a supportive family, their diversity understated, making the focus on Nate's dilemma the driving force of the story.
The fact that Nate and Miri have two dads is accepted, not addressed as an issue.
Questions & learning points
Does the book accurately reflect Jewish holidays and cultural experiences? This is not our area of expertise.
Is the cultural make-up of the classroom in the book an accurate reflection of diversity of the majority of primary school classrooms?
Charlie: Without straying into preached didacticism, The Purim Superhero addresses Nate's worries about being different in the face of peer pressure, provides reassurance that celebrates individuality, and does so in a charming, educational and entertaining way. A deft, light and fun tone makes this story a must for any young costume wearing reader!
Beth: I totally agree with the review above, my only criticism would be that Nate's sister is portrayed as typically girly, is all dressed in pink, and wins an award for being gorgeous. So, whilst Nate gets something great to aspire to, the importance of looks is reinforced for his sister.
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