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The Matzo Ball Boy (Picture Puffin Books) Paperback – February 1, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4—This original tale based on the "The Gingerbread Man" misses its mark. An old bubbe is lonely because none of her children come for Passover anymore, so she makes a matzo ball boy who, of course, runs off, tempting a variety of characters from a shtetl-style village. He outsmarts the fox and swims across the river, but gets eaten in the end. The use of traditional Jewish expressions and guilt clearly speaks to an adult audience, with children likely to miss the humor altogether. The Yiddish terms are translated within the text, which is intrusive considering that there is a glossary in the back; plus, the real audience for this story is likely to know their meanings already. The inclusion of some information about the holiday and a pronunciation guide is nice, although unlikely to make the piece accessible to readers not versed in Judaism. The stylized, folksy cartoon art, with its colorful backgrounds and bell-shaped women chasing the rotund, matzo ball boy, is comical and fun. The entertaining illustrations are likely to appeal to children, but the overly long text and adult humor make the audience unclear. Naomi Howland's The Matzah Man (Houghton, 2002) does the same sort of thing more effectively, with more child appeal.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
PreS-Gr.1. In a delightful fractured version of The Gingerbread Boy, a grandma (bubbe), preparing for the Passover seder, makes a matzo ball boy, who jumps out of the chicken soup and runs off to see the world. He's pursued by the bubbe, the rabbi, the tailor (schneider), a gossip (yenta), and others; he even outruns a fox, who has a voice "as smooth as schmaltz" (chicken fat). The ending has a little twist, and the occasional Yiddish words (defined in the glossary) add a warm, droll tone ("Oy! Oy! Come back") to the tale, which is picked up in the bright, mischievous pictures showing the fun of the chase. Shulman concludes with a brief note about the holiday. This might start a family post-seder storytelling tradition. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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