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Julia's Kitchen Hardcover – March 21, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374399328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374399320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-The night her mother and sister die in a house fire, 11-year-old Cara is sleeping over at her friend Marlee's. As she gradually tries to adjust to life without them, she struggles with a sense of disbelief at her loss, her anger at her father for his reluctance to discuss the details of the fire and for hiding himself in his work, and her feelings of isolation from her classmates. She questions God's lack of power to keep her family safe, finally realizing that she cannot live without her Jewish faith. Cara takes strength from her beloved Bubbe and Zayde-her mother's parents-and from creating a family scrapbook. But healing and self-assurance finally come with her decision to continue her mother's home-based baking business-Julia's Kitchen. Ferber's characterization of suburban Cara is accurate and believable, although other characters are not as fully developed. A short glossary of Hebrew terminology and a recipe for chocolate chip cookies are appended. The novel's brevity and honesty will appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish girls.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Eleven-year old Cara Segal regularly floats prayers up to God, nudging him to protect her family. This changes when Cara's mother, Julia, and sister die in a fire at their home, while Cara is at a sleepover. A few items survive the fire, including Julia's recipes and the several Jewish mezuzahs that once hung in their doorways. With her father lost in grief and unavailable to answer her questions, Cara wrestles with a range of emotions, mostly by herself. Relationships with grandparents and best friend, Marlee, are touching and authentic. After 41 days of being the only one who can make Cara smile, Marlee admits that she misses "the old Cara." Cara boosts her own faith and healing by secretly reviving her mother's home-based cookie business, Julia's Kitchen. The story may be too intense for some readers who are Cara's age, and a few plot details are confusing, but major themes about grief and healing are beautifully addressed in what turns out to be a strong debut novel. Nancy Kim
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Brenda A. Ferber grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, where she fell in love with reading and dreamed of becoming a children's book author. Before she found the courage to make her dream come true, she worked at a french-fry store, an ice cream store, and an advertising agency. She graduated from the University of Michigan, married her college sweetheart, and had three kids in 19 months. Then she finally decided to go for it. The result was Julia's Kitchen, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award in 2007. She followed that with Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire and her first picture book, The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Blitt on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I received an advanced reader's copy of Julia's Kitchen and read it in one evening, unable to put it down. Julia's Kitchen is a touching portrayal of grief and mourning and rediscovering your personal strength. Given the other topics that young adults and adolescents are reading these days, I hardly think this will be too hard for them to handle. While the subject matter is incredibly painful, and I found myself often weeping, it's a beautiful, well-written story and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carol Coven Grannick on June 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read JULIA'S KITCHEN a number of times, and each time I am moved, heartbroken and healed by this story. It is the carefully and beautifully written story of Cara, who

must rely to a great extent on her own internal resources when a sudden and unpredictable tragedy strikes her family. JULIA'S KITCHEN will take readers into the depths of Cara's feelings - sadness, anger, confusion, and hope - and offer a rich story of her confusion about her faith, her tenuous relationship with her grieving father, and her questions about how to hold

on to the memories of her mother and sister and still move forward in life.

It is a powerful reading experience for the child who wants to be touched and changed by a story, but it is also an opportunity for children, together, to discuss the multitude of issues dealt with in the course of the book - the unpredictability of the world, the unevenness of adults who do not always have children's best interests at heart, the importance of good friendship, the sometimes-confusing nature of faith, and the beauty and importance of inner resilience and hope. JULIA'S KITCHEN should not be mistaken for a book

"about grief". It is a story about the unfortunate, but real, ways children's lives can be shaken - and the exquisite resiliency of the human spirit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Just to let you know I am actually 14 I just don't want to put in my email address. I picked up this book at the library one day just looking at the cover thinking it would be a book about a girl that enjoys baking, but when I brougnt it home I couldn't put it down read it all in one night. It is a sad story and i was almost in tears at some parts, but I receieved a very strong theme from this story: Appreciate what you have and try to move on when you lose something important to you. I defnitely recommend that anyone who loves to read will love this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Experienced Editor VINE VOICE on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's true. You can't judge a book by its cover. The stylized artwork on Julia's Kitchen seems to promise a mildly humorous story, contemporary and quirky. Open the book, however, and you'll be pulled into a quiet, sensitive narrative of death, mourning, and ongoing life.
Eleven-year-old Cara is spending the night with her best friend when a house fire at her own home kills her mother and younger sister. Her father, who survived the fire, will not talk about it, and Cara struggles with questions no one can answer. What happened? How did her father escape? Why didn't he save her mother and sister? And the hardest question of all: "Where was God when my house was burning?"
Gently, gradually, Cara's first-person account leads the reader through her denial, anger, and mourning process, including time-honored Jewish traditions--shiva and mourner's kaddish (defined in the book)--for dealing with deep grief.
The book's title comes from Cara's mother, Julia: Before her death, she created gift baskets filled with cookies and brownies from "Julia's Kitchen." A metal box of recipes, salvaged from the burned house, provides a key that helps Cara eventually find answers to her questions.
Julia's Kitchen affirms the importance of friends and family in daily life, as the grieving Cara learns to reach past her emotional defenses and accept the support of people who care for her. More than this, Cara's story affirms that religious faith need not be blind, that questions are OK, and that spiritual struggle can lead to spiritual strength. Intense yet inspiring, Julia's Kitchen is told straight from the heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kamin on January 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When Cara Segal looses her mother and younger sister in a house fire, she questions her belief in God, struggles with her relationship with her father, and tries to find ways to hold onto her memories of her family before the fire. With the support of her best friend, her grandparents, and the school social worker, Cara finds fulfillment in continuing her mother's baking business and donating the profits to the local firefighters. She also finds meaning in hanging mezuzot on the doors of her new apartment and realizes that "God works his magic by giving us the strength to handle just about anything that comes our way. And for what we can't handle alone, he gives us friends and family." (p. 148) Like Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman (2005), Birdland by Tracy Mack (2003), and Understanding Buddy by Marc Kornblatt (2001), Julia's Kitchen tackles the difficult issue of death of a loved one and explores how Jewish identity and spirituality helps the character to cope. First-time author Brenda Ferber, winner of the 2004 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award, authentically captures the voice of a contemporary 11-year-old and despite the tragic premise manages to keep the book up-beat, refreshing, and inspiring.
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