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Review: Abby, Tried and True

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 Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart Simon & Schuster Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Judith S. Greenblatt   Buy at Bookshop.org Donna Gephart has built an audience that awaits each of her books. In this latest of her books she tackles important difficult subjects. One concern is the self-image of an introvert, the other is the effect of life-threatening illness on not only the ill person, but the whole family.  Almost twelve year old Abby is an introvert who has one friend. Unfortunately, that friend, Catriella, is moving to Israel. Her house next door is rented and eventually Abby allows herself to become friends with her new neighbor, Conrad. Abby’s beloved older brother Paul is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Abby, her Moms, the extended family and Paul’s friend Ethan work together to get through Paul’s diagnoses, surgery and chemotherapy. Abby is supported by Catriella via text and phone and Conrad, and helped by talking to her pet turtle, and by writing poetry.  Cancer i

Review: The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips

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The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Omer Hoffman Green Bean Books Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili  Buy at Bookshop.org Who knew fish and chips has a place in Jewish history? The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips , written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Omer Hoffmann, brings this interesting part of food history to the picture book format. Joseph Malin, a descendant of Spanish Jews, ‘loved fish. He loved catching fish from the sea. He loved selling fish in his family’s shop. And, most of all, Joseph loved eating fish.’ His grandmother had taught him how to make it and explained ‘the secret of this scrumptious recipe. “It’s the crispy crust that makes the fish so delicious. And that’s why it still tastes good when we eat it cold on the Sabbath.” ’ Written in delightful prose that young readers will easily be able to follow, the story unfolds and explains how the popular combination dish of fish and chips evolved

Review: We Can't Keep Meeting Like This

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 We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon Simon & Schuster Category: Young Adult Reviewer: Cheryl Fox Strausberg Buy at Bookshop.org In the summer before she goes off to college, Quinn Berkowitz can’t help but wonder how she is going to tell her family that the future that they’ve always banked on - the one where she joins the family’s wedding planning business, isn’t the future she envisions for herself. She is tired of playing her harp at the ceremonies; she’s fed up with handling crazy brides and grooms; she hates having to give up her last summer at home with her high school friends in order to work full time. When the summer couldn’t seem to be any bleaker, her longtime crush, Tarek - the son of the caterers that her family works with - returns home after his first year at college looking happy and healthy. Quinn and Tarek haven’t spoken since a fight in the previous summer which ended when Quinn poured out her feelings for him in an email to which he never r

Review: And a Cat from Carmel Market

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 And a Cat from Carmel Market by Alyssa Satin Capucilli,illustrated by Rotem Teplow Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Rachel Kamin Buy at Bookshop.org When Bubbe goes shopping on Friday afternoon in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, she comes home with challah, candles, chicken, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and wine as well as a parade of stray cats. But when the cats start to yowl and disrupt her Shabbat meal, Bubbe agonizes over shooing the cats away. Surprisingly, as soon as she lights the candles, “all the cats settled down before her eyes” and Bubbe and her guests are able to enjoy a delicious, and peaceful, meal. The simple rhyming text is a pleasure to read aloud and young children will join in the refrain “. . . and a cat from Carmel Market!” They will also delight in finding, and counting, all of the cats, in various sizes and colors, that follow Bubbe home. The cheery, detailed and textured illustrations by Israeli artist R

Review: Albert Einstein: Genius of Space and Time

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Albert Einstein: Genius of Space and Time! by Mark Shulman, illustrated by Kelly Tindall Portable Press, an imprint of Printers Row Publishing Group Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Jane Kohuth Buy at Bookshop.org Albert Einstein: Genius of Space and Time! is part of the “Show me History!” graphic biography series. It presents a largely chronological overview of Einstein’s whole life rather than focusing on one particular time period or aspect of his work. The story, aimed at middle grade readers, is narrated by two characters based on Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty, who guide the reader through Einstein’s childhood, education, rocky marriage, scientific breakthroughs, fame, escape from Nazi Germany, reluctant encouragement to FDR to develop nuclear weapons ahead of the Germans, and later life working at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.    Despite dealing with sometimes very serious subject matter, the book takes an overall humorous (but always

Review: The Woodcarver's Daughter

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 The Woodcarver's Daughter by Yona Zeldis McDonough Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group) Category: Middle Grade Reviewer: Stacy Mozer Buy at Bookshop.org The Woodcarver's Daughter is the story of a Russian Jewish family that is forced to immigrate because of pograms in Russia. But Batya's story isn't about the challenges of immigration or fitting into a new world, it's about the difficulties of being a girl in this time period. Batya's love of woodcarving, and the way society prevents her from enjoying her passion, is contrasted with her older brother who is forced into that apprenticeship even though he has no interest. Batya's willingness to continue to push her elders to see how capable she is a good lesson for anyone who is being told they cannot do something. I hope this book will be considered for a Sydney Taylor book honor because the book has literary merit. It has a positive and authentic Jewish religious or cultural content. Th

Review: Shloimie's Letter

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Shloimie's Letter by Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili, illustrated by Michael Biniashvili Hachai Publishing Category: Picture Books Reviewer: Chava Pinchuck Buy at Hachai Publishing An early reader with large text and short chapters, this story is inspired by events in the author's family history. Set in 1946/1947, Shloimie Paporovich and his family live in Toronto. This ten-year-old enjoys playing baseball with his friends, but one day when he pitches, the ball breaks the car window of a neighbor, Mr. Barclay. Shloimie knows that "Gam zu l'tova" - everything is for the good, so he confesses to Mr. Barclay and agrees to do chores to work off the cost of the broken window. His best friend Hershel helps him out, which makes the raking of leaves and snow shoveling go faster. One day Shloimie's family receives a mysterious letter from Sweden. A cousin survived the Holocaust. The Paporovich family would like Leib to move to Canada, but the immigration laws are very