Beato Goes to Israel by Sucheta Rawal is the second in the series of “Beat Goes to” books – the other books taking him to Greenland and Indonesia – featuring a globetrotting cat and his adventures. Here Beato travels throughout Israel with a girl named Helena who teaches Beato about the country’s history, culture, religion, food, and more.
Beato is a charming character, who’s endlessly optimistic and positive about everything he sees – even the size of tomatoes! He’s open to every experience, and loves to learn. Rawal smartly couches the more-factual detail about the country into an entertaining story, so kids will still be glued to the pages. The illustrations are exquisite – colorful and sweet with each frame perfectly suited to the text on the page, making Beato’s story come alive.
The book has a great message about diversity – appreciating and getting along with other cultures. However, it does shy away from addressing some of the deeper problems in the region, which is not always necessary in a children’s book, as kids will have questions. When Rawal writes, “‘There are people from different cultures here, but we all live in peace and harmony,’” it’s a nice sentiment, but not entirely reflective of the situation. To teach tolerance, sometimes it’s necessary to teach about intolerance.
That said, the book’s positive outlook is also one of its selling points. Beato is such a fun and enthusiastic tour guide that kids will be wanting to see where he travels next, and they’ll see other cultures in a new light.