Matilda Makes Matzah Balls

Apples & Honey. Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681156163.
PreS-Gr 1–A story that celebrates the intergenerational bond between a girl and her bubbe (grandma) as they prepare matzah ball soup for Passover. Matilda is excited. She loves watching Bubbe make matzah ball soup, and this year she gets to help! Bubbe patiently walks her through the steps, indulgently encouraging additions to the recipe, but when Matilda decides to make one giant ball, Bubbe is skeptical. When the ball sinks like lead, Bubbe tells her it is okay. They can try again. This time, Matilda makes her balls star-shaped, using cookie cutters, and adds beet juice. This version is “out of this world.” The story is simple, and Bubbe gently supports, encourages, and consoles Matilda by turns, celebrating her creativity and perseverance. The text is concise and readable if a bit unoriginal and uninspired. The art is cartoony, appealingly reminiscent of Lisa Campbell Ernst’s work, and Galmozzi utilizes different points of view, including close-ups, to focus in on the process and spot art to move the story. Matilda is depicted with brown pigtails, while Bubbe is curvy with short, curly gray hair and an engaging smile. Many of the backgrounds are predominantly white, allowing the central characters and action to pop. This pleasant story depicts a lovely intergenerational bond; however, it has very little to do with Passover itself, and, while sweet, is not outstanding.
VERDICT This amiable but unremarkable story would make a decent additional purchase for libraries in need of more Jewish representation. Others can pass.

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