Jo and Pepper and the Big Sleep
Written by: Hilit Blum
Illustrated by: Kinneret Gildar
What helped Pepper (Marheshvan in the Hebrew original) recover from his cold? Medicine, rest… and a best friend who offered him nourishing soup, cold lemonade, a suspense-filled tale, and most of all – care and friendship.
"Visiting the sick and acts of kindness bring good to the world"
(Avot of Rabbi Natan 30)
The importance of visiting the sick has been emphasized in Jewish tradition since the time of Abraham. Jewish literature is filled with stories that demonstrate the huge value and tremendous benefit of visiting the sick, reminding us that caring for and tending to the sick is often as healing as medicine.
The sick require different levels of assistance, and each visitor can help in their own way – by offering them aid, calling, sending a drawing, wishing them a speedy recovery, or paying them a friendly visit. During these wintry days, when sneezes are followed by coughs, we would do well to remember those around us who are sick, think of little ways of lightening their load, and helping them as they recover.
Enjoy reading this book together and may you be healthy!
Proposed Family Activities:
- Pepper's nose is blocked and he has a terrible cold (or as the Hebrew original puts it "betsudad dora"). Can you understand what he says? Try blocking your nose and reading Pepper's dialog. You could also ask your child to translate "cold" into Hebrew, and invent new "cold" words.
- The story is long and suspenseful. You may want to pause at the point where Joezer announces "We're in trouble", let your child guess the rest of the plot, and resume reading another day.
- You could ask your child who, in their opinion, had invented the story – Jo or Pepper? You may also enjoy making up your own story, and taking turns to do so. Start the first sentence, then ask your child to add one of their own. Keep going, taking turns, until an entire story comes together. You could even write it up, and draw some illustrations to go along with it.
- Pepper (as well as Marheshvan) is a funny name for a bunny! Does your child know that the month of Heshvan is also called Mar-Heshvan? Mar is Aramaic for drop, and during the month of Heshvan we expect rainfall. Some say the word Mar was added to the name of this month because it is the only one in which we do not mark a single Jewish holiday or fast day. Can your child name all the Hebrew months of the year? You may want to check the Hebrew birthdays of all your family members, and create a Hebrew birthday calendar for the entire family.
- Are any of your child's classmates unwell? Perhaps someone around you is feeling a little sick? You could think of ways of making them feel better together, like making them a hand-drawn greeting card, calling them, taking over something yummy, or properly visiting them, story and all!