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Jewish Journal

Purim in the produce section

by Shoshana Lewin-Fischer

February 28, 2008 | 5:00 pm

YeLAdim recently stumbled across an airing of the 2000 "VeggieTales" film "Esther ... The Girl Who Became Queen" (Big Idea, $14.99). In one scene, a grape thwarts two peas trying to drop a piano on a pickle. Well, it makes sense if you think back to the story of Purim. Mordechai overhears a plot to assassinate King Ahasuerus (called Xerxes in the movie). Esther's story translates amazingly well to produce. With funny and thoughtful songs, plus a brief homage to "The Godfather" films, you can enjoy learning about the courageous efforts of a young green onion named Esther. Can she save her people from being banished to the "The Island of Perpetual Tickling" by the wicked fedora-wearing Haman?

Book 'Em!

Ever feel like being part of something big? Now is your chance. On Monday, March 3, the National Education Association, in partnership with the California Teachers Association, will sponsor Read Across America. The idea is to get kids all over the country, from preschool to 12th grade, excited about the world of books. Events like reading challenges, breakfast read-ins and book drives are all helping to celebrate this year's theme: "Go Books, Go."

As a start, check out some of these books by Jewish authors from the list of "Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know" compiled by the California School Library Association:

Preschool to Second Grade: "Hanukkah at Valley Forge" by Stephen Krensky (Dutton, 2006)

Third to Fifth Grade: "Dad, Jackie and Me" by Myron Uhlberg (Peachtree, 2006)

Sixth to Eighth Grade: "Julia's Kitchen" by Brenda Ferber (Farrar, 2006)

Ninth to 12th Grade: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zuzak (Knopf, 2006)

You can read to a younger sibling or a grandparent; take turns reading a book with a friend -- or many friends, or ask a parent, rabbi or teacher to read to you. Remember: Books can take you anywhere you want to go without having to pack a suitcase.

For more information, visit www.cta.org.

The Whole Megillah

This month, you'll have a chance to shine at the many megillah readings and Purim carnivals around town!

  • Forget the expensive costume this time and go for something that's all about you. Become a queen or king of anything you like -- from cereal to socks to Hannah Montana. Pick your favorite kingdom, make a crown out of cardboard and some tinfoil as well as a scepter out of a broom and some colored plastic wrap.

  • Make your own unique grogger (noisemaker). Grab two paper plates; some beans, rice or noodles; scissors; a glue stick; and a stapler (you'll want to ask a grown-up to help with this part).

    Grab your favorite magazine and cut out pictures that you enjoy (Jonas Brothers, the Lakers). Then, using the glue stick, decorate the bottom of the paper plates. Put the two plates together so the decorated bottoms are on the outside and begin stapling them together on the edge, leaving very little space between the staples. Leave an opening at the top, and toss in noodles, rice or beans. Once you're done, staple the opening shut.

    Now the coolest grogger in town is ready to be used to drown out Haman's name.

  • Make shalach manot (goodie bags) for your friends. Get a bunch of small snacks (like granola bars, fruit treats and gum) and presents (like stickers, pencils, bouncy balls and those fun fake bling). Pick up some small colorful paper bags and stuff them with the goodies. Then write a note wishing your friends a Very Happy Chag Purim!

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