New picture book explores the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva and the importance of community

New picture book explores the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva and the importance of community

Sitting Shiva, a new picture book written by Erin Silver and illustrated by Michelle Theodore, was released this May by Orca Book Publishers during Jewish Heritage Month.

This poignant book, suitable for children aged three to five, gently introduces the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva, while also exploring the topics of grief and togetherness. In this story, Jenny and her father are coping with the loss of Jenny’s mother. Friends and family arrive to mourn with them, bringing platters of food, hugs and comforting words. While Jenny initially wants to be alone, she begins to feel the support of her community and realizes that it is easier to face her grief with the help of loved ones.

Author Erin Silver hopes to showcase the special beauty of the practice. She states, “[Sitting shiva] isn’t necessarily a sad custom—it’s a beautiful tradition that enables mourners to feel loved, cared for and nourished by their family, friends and community.”

Sitting Shiva also includes a page that explores the mourning traditions of other religions. “It’s not just a story for Jewish children,” Silver shares. “The feelings and concepts explored in the story are something to which all children can relate. What every faith has in common is the idea of community—people have a need to care for each other, and the mourning process gives people that chance to care.”

About the Author and Illustrator:

Erin Silver has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. Her work has appeared in everything from the Washington Post and the Globe and Mail to Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping, among many other North American magazines, newspapers and blogs. She has a postgraduate journalism degree from Ryerson University and an MFA in creative nonfiction from King’s College. She’s a member of CANSCAIP, SCBWI, IBBY, The Writers Union of Canada, and Authors’ Booking Service. She lives in Toronto.

Michelle Theodore was born and raised in Edmonton. She loves making intelligent and captivating illustrations that evoke a deep emotional connection. Her recent work focuses on exploring the intangible feelings of childhood memory and her strong obsession with the pull of the ocean.

Praise for Sitting Shiva:

“With its lovely, warm illustrations and perfectly pitched storyline, provides an accessible introduction to shiva for readers of all ages…A sensitive, powerful treatment of a child’s grief.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A thoughtful and gentle introduction to shiva, grief and mourning to even the littlest of readers.” —Association of Jewish Libraries

“Shows great empathy for a child’s feelings when coping with loss. That Silver does this task in a unique and emotional way that manages to convey the traditions associated with the practice of sitting shiva is admirable. Highly Recommended.” —CM: Canadian Review of Materials

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