Review: The Peddler and the Baker

The Peddler and the Baker by Yael Molchadsky, illustrated by Liora Grossman

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Sandy Wasserman

Beautiful book with a powerful message, with the text and illustrations flowing along like instruments in a concert, each enhancing the other. 'The best things in life are free,' words often said, though in this book this message leaps out to both the poor skinny peddler and the stout baker. The message comes through clearly to the reader as it does to the children who peer and eavesdrop from the staircase in the wise rabbi's house as he gives his decree on the situation presented to him: Do we need to pay for what our senses offer up to us in this world, including the wafting aroma of freshly baking bread? A book to read over and over to remind us of all that we can enjoy in life that is free in the world. The illustrations in this book take us a journey all on their own, with glorious endpapers of baking tools.

A tale of simple people who go to the rabbi for advice on a matter concerning what needs to be paid for. The peddler is a Jew, from his interest in Shabbat; the baker is wearing a fez. All are living in peace together in the hazy, magnificent illustrations of a town, somewhere in the past. The rabbi's study is filled with shelves and shelves of books; clearly he is the accepted authority in the town. And at the end, a challah recipe. The perfect Shabbat book on so many levels.


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Reviewer Sandy Wasserman is a retired teacher of Gifted and Talented students, and taught for 35 years in both public schools and at a Solomon Schechter Day School. She's a wife, mother of two adult daughters, and grandmother to two fantastic 'first readers' of her manuscripts. Her published book, The Sun's Special Blessing [2009], was her first serendipitous and fun experience in the publishing world. She loves to read and swim, though not at the same time.