Talia and the Rude Vegetables

K-Gr 2—Talia's grandmother asks her to pick seven root vegetables from the garden for a Rosh Hashanah recipe. Mishearing her, the child seeks out "rude" vegetables, creatively interpreting the plants' awkward shapes as misbehavior. In the process, she sets aside the unwanted perfect produce and does a mitzvah by donating it to feed the hungry. This is a book of missed opportunity. It starts out strong, as Talia ponders the meaning of the Jewish New Year: asking forgiveness for misdeeds and promising to do better. This theme is reinforced by her thoughts on the first few veggies; for instance, an ornery onion that is difficult to dig up "won't do what it's told," and a garishly purple garlic bulb "seems like a big show-off." However, the story is weakened by Talia's explanations petering out halfway through, and by the lack of explicit redemption for these rude vegetables (being cooked into delicious stew could make up for their supposed bad behavior, but this is never made clear). In an anticlimactic ending, the story stops before the vegetables are even cooked, and readers never find out whether Talia learned anything from her mistake. A recipe for vegetable stew is included.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Talia is confounded by her grandmother's request for some "rude vegetables" (carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc.) for the Rosh Hashanah stew. While digging up an "ornery onion" and "garish garlic," she thinks about her own behavior; all ends with holiday sweetness. The joke goes on a little long, but the end is rewarding. Autumnal colors and rounded shapes evoke comfortable family scenes.

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