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Purim Superhero

Children's Book Review and Discussion Guide

Title: Purim Superhero
Author: Elisabeth Kushner
Illustrator: Nate Byrne
Publisher: Kar-Ben
Intended for Ages: 6-7 years
Jewish Topics: Purim, Ometz Lev (courage), Adam Yehidi Nivrah (respecting differences)
Additional Topics Mentioned: Diversity, LGBTQ Families

Synopsis

Nate and his classmates are working on their Purim costumes. All the boys in his class are planning to wear superhero costumes, but Nate loves aliens and would like to dress as an alien. Reluctantly, Nate decides to dress like the other boys as a superhero until one of his dads reminds Nate of the Purim story. There are lots of different types of superheroes and Nate, with the help of his dads and his sister, creates the perfect costume. In the end, Nate's friends learn a valuable lesson about being whoever you want to be.

Highlights

  • The story demonstrates the value of being truthful about who you are. Nate faces a dilemma when the boys in his class decide to dress as superheroes, while he truly wants to dress as an alien, yet still fit in with his friends. His father tells him that while this is not always easy and takes courage (ometz lev), it is important to be truthful about who you are. Just like in the Purim story. If Queen Esther had not been truthful about being Jewish, she never would have been able to save the Jewish people from Haman's evil plot. Nate makes a brave and creative decision, and manages to be who he wants to be and stand out in a positive way.
     
  • Nate has two dads, but this is actually not the highlight of the story. By presenting Nate's family as a family just like any other, the book reinforces the idea that many different types of families are welcome in the Jewish community. Like many children, Nate wants to "fit in" but ultimately teaches both his classmates and the reader the value of respecting differences (adam yehidi nivrah).

Jewish Topics for Family Discussion

  • The holiday of Purim. Everyone in this book is preparing to celebrate the holiday of Purim — Nate, his sister and his classmates are picking their costumes, Nate’s dads are preparing the costumes for Nate and his sister, and Nate’s Hebrew school is planning their Purim costume party. This book can be a great way to start planning for Purim at your home too. You can also find additional resources on ReformJudaism.org, such as a guide to baking hamantaschen, instructions for making your own grogger, and some eco-friendly Purim ideas.
     
  • The importance of ometz lev. Throughout history, Jewish "superheroes" have been important role models. From Nachson and Queen Esther, to Harry Houdini and Kitty Pryde of the X-Men Comics, superheroes are great examples of courage. These role models seem other-worldly, yet each of us can be a superhero. On Purim we can choose to wear a superhero mask. Much more significantly, we can be “superheroes” every day by showing courage and taking pride in who we are. In this book, Nate teaches us this lesson by taking the risk of standing out and picking the costume he really wanted to wear. We see that his actions pay off. His friends, who initially urged him to dress up like everyone else, admire his creative costume and consider dressing up like him during the following year!
     
  • The Jewish community is made stronger through diversity. The book shows an LGBTQ family as full and welcome participants in the Jewish community. Nate and his sister attend religious school, the family celebrates Jewish holidays, and they participate in synagogue life. Think of the different types of families you know. Jewish history has numerous examples of diverse families. Can you name some? Here's a hint: One such family is the hero of the story of Purim.

Purim Superhero was the winner of Keshet's national contest for a Jewish children's book with LGBTQ characters

Purim Superhero was offered as a gift to PJ Library® subscribers in March 2014. PJ Library® provides the gift of free Jewish books and music to families raising Jewish children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years. To find out if subscriptions are available in your area, please visit the PJ Library®-URJ-WRJ Partnership page.