From School Library Journal
Gr 1-4–This book is a prequel to The Keeping Quilt (S & S, 1988), but readers do not need to have read the first book to enjoy it. The entrancing charcoal illustrations soften the bittersweet story and will delight young readers as they follow the brightly colored “Blessing Cup” through pages of black and white. Polacco tells an autobiographical story, tracing the origins of a special teacup from the hands of her great-grandmother in Russia to the possession of her own children today. In telling the story of the cup, the author touches on the plight of Jewish people in Russia during the early 1900s, bringing to light the terror of the pogroms as seen through the eyes of Polacco's great-grandmother as a girl. The importance of family is the underlying message of the book; it will be best delivered by an adult who can explain some of the history that drives the action. Polacco's touching yet restrained storytelling, paired with her evocative illustrations, makes The Blessing Cup an excellent addition to any collection.–Nora Clancy, Teachers College Community School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This prequel to The Keeping Quilt (1988) recounts the story of great-grandmother Anna’s childhood exodus from czarist Russia to America. The family brings along a precious tea set (“Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God”), hoping it will bring them good luck. When Papa falls ill from cold and exhaustion, a kindly doctor takes them in, nursing Papa back to health and eventually buying the whole family passage to America. In gratitude, they give him the tea set, keeping only one “blessing cup” for themselves. Polacco is a master storyteller, and this heartwarming tale of hardship and the importance of family does not disappoint. The charcoal illustrations are accented with splashes of vibrant color that allow readers to follow the tea set and Anna’s babushka along the journey. An afterword explains how the real cup broke in half during the 1989 California earthquake, enabling Polacco to pass along a part of this heirloom to both of her children. This tale stands alone, but fans will cherish this addition to the Polacco canon. Grades 1-3. --Kay Weisman