Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook

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Under the Domin Tree book coverWhat the Book is About:

Amelia’s finishing up eighth grade and is very apprehensive about entering high school. She can’t wait until the summer so she can hang out at the pool with her best friend, Carly, and do absolutely nothing. But her long-absent father has invited Amelia and her sister to Chicago to study Hebrew and have a joint bat mitzvah, and she’s just found out that Carly is switching schools next year. Growing up is so complicated, but Amelia’s quirky illustrated journal is just the ticket to help her stop worrying so much about everything. 

Jewish Content and Values

  • Amelia’s dad invites her and her sister to have a bat mitzvah in Chicago with his new family. Cleo loves the idea and begins wearing a Jewish star, practicing Friday night prayers, and lighting Shabbat candles. Amelia struggles with her “instant” Jewish identity while seriously considering his offer. 
  • The book ends with an extensive list describing Amelia’s Top 10 Things Being Jewish Means to Me. 

Positive Role Models

Amelia is initially negative about her relationship with her sister. Towards the end of the book, she learns to appreciate Cleo’s good qualities. Although she’s unhappy that Carly is leaving for another school, Amelia tries to support and encourage her friend on the path she has chosen. 

Content Advisory

Amelia and her older sister, Cleo, don’t really get along and often say unkind things to and about each other. Also, several cartoons portraying Cleo and other adult characters are a bit snarky, though amusing. 

Talk it Over

At the beginning of the book, Amelia has trouble sleeping, worrying about all the changes that next year will bring. After planning Carly’s party, she’s a lot more positive about the summer and beyond. Why do you think her attitude changed? 

More For You

The chai symbol is a popular jewelry design, nearly as popular as the Star of David. Although he didn’t identify as a Jew, Elvis Presley, whose great-great-grandmother Nancy Burdine was Jewish, wore a chai later in life. When asked why this was so important to him, he responded, “I don’t want to miss out on going to heaven on a technicality.”

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