Yiddish Saves the Day

Apples & Honey Press. Aug. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155449.
PreS-Gr 2–The second-person text in this slight, rhyming tale declares “you” are having a bad day, especially because of the loss of a notebook of interesting vocabulary words to be handed in to class for a test. However, after the whole mishpocha (family) shows up and has dinner, the solution is declared to submit Yiddish words. The teacher loves them, an “A” is received, and the missing notebook turns up. The rhyming text is sprinkled liberally with Yiddish words, written in bold print with pronunciation guides and definitions at the bottom of each page. The pencil, acrylic paint, and digitally created illustrations are cartoonish and appear to be set in early 20th-century New York, based on the characters’ clothing. There is liberal use of white space, and the images include generous movement. While those familiar with Yiddish or Hebrew will be able to read the “ch” in the pronunciation guides as the guttural “kh” sound that has no English counterpart, those, there is nothing to indicate the correct pronunciation to those without that knowledge. Additionally, the translations of both dybbuk and golem are a stretch.
VERDICT Jewish communities in search of entertaining ways to introduce Yiddish to children will find this amusing. Others are likely to be left behind.

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