Cover image for Rabbi Benjamin's buttons
Rabbi Benjamin's buttons
McGinty, Alice B., 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Watertown, Mass. : Charlesbridge, 2014.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Rabbi Benjamin's congregation presents him with a special holiday vest--and cooks him so much food that soon its buttons pop off. Includes glossary, notes on Jewish holidays, and recipes for special foods associated with them.
Reading Level:
AD 850 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.8 0.5 170858.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



"As a sign of affection for their warm-hearted rabbi, the families of the congregation make Rabbi Benjamin a special holiday vest, complete with four shiny silver buttons. Throughout the year Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Chanukah, and Passover the rabbi celebrates with his congregation, unable to resist their delicious home-cooked food. But with each holiday his vest grows tight, tighter, until . . . POP!"

Author Notes

"Alice B. McGinty is the award-winning author of over forty books for children. She is a writer, reader, writing coach and instructor, book reviewer, author, and mom. If you peeked in her pockets, you might find scraps of paper and a pen, a pebble or two, and a guitar pick. Alice has led music sessions for religious school and taught pre-kindergarten classes in her synagogue for many years. An enthusiastic dancer, hiker, and runner, Alice lives in Urbana, Illinois."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A grateful congregation presents their beloved Rabbi Benjamin with a special holiday vest containing four silver buttons. He proudly wears the garment for Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah, and Passover, although the vest gradually becomes a bit soiled and quite tight as he overindulges in holiday foods, resulting in buttons popping off at inopportune times. Embarrassed, Benjamin spends the summer and early fall hard at work for his families planting, picking, sweating, and fishing. By New Year's, the vest again fits, but without the buttons it's not quite the same. Luckily the congregation is one step ahead with a brand new vest. Reinhardt's watercolor-and-ink illustrations are well suited to this sunny, slyly humorous text: at each holiday, families ply the rabbi with delectable goodies, and buttons always pop into the festive foods. Concluded with recipes and a glossary, this makes a good introduction to the cycle of Jewish holidays. (The gentle caution about overeating is a bonus.)--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rabbi Benjamin and his congregation are besotted with one another, but when the community presents its leader with a yellow-gold vest to wear on holidays, decorated with four shiny silver buttons, they neglect to factor in one thing: Jewish holidays mean lots of irresistible, calorie- and emotion-laden Jewish cooking. As the rabbi grows increasingly portly at various dinners, it's clear to both him and his attentive dog that the vest and its silver buttons are not engineered to expand. Oy-yoy-yoy! You don't have to be Jewish to love this marvelously funny, wholly original story about the intersection of faith, food, and families-in fact, it's got a wrap-up that Michelle Obama would applaud: Rabbi Benjamin discovers that a regimen of community-centered exercise (like helping one family plant a Sukkot garden) can work wonders. McGinty's (Gandhi: A March to the Sea) loving, lighthearted prose is as sunshiny as her characters, while Reinhardt's (The Adventures of a South Pole Pig) detailed watercolors depict a diverse congregation brimming with endearing idiosyncrasies and mutual affection-a real mishpochah. Ages 4-8. Illustrator's agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-Rabbi Benjamin has a loving relationship with his congregants, who present him with a holiday vest one Rosh Hashanah as a token of their esteem. During Sukkot, Chanukah, and Passover, he overindulges in the treats cooked up by his friends. One by one, his buttons pop off as his stomach expands. Instead of despairing, the man spends the summer helping his friends with tasks that give him a good workout, and by the following Rosh Hashanah, he is pleased to accept a wonderful new vest (with the retrieved buttons) to replace the stretched and battered old one. A number of positive themes run through this story: community, hospitality, health, problem solving. Diversity is celebrated in the cheerful watercolor and ink illustrations, which include mixed-race and single-parent families in the congregation, as well as a dad flouting traditional gender roles as he cooks and takes care of his baby. These holidays provide a framework for the story but are not the focus. The many universal themes are more central to the book than the Jewish content and make it appropriate for general audiences. The four recipes (one for each holiday) will also appeal across cultures. A pleasant story that can be used year-round as a celebration of Jewish heritage, the love of community, and the importance of eating right.-Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Rabbi Benjamin loved his red brick synagogue on Walnut Street. With a warm, wide smile, he welcomed everyone who entered. "A happy congregation is the sunshine of my heart," the rabbi said. Excerpted from Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons by Alice B. McGinty All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.