Review: And a Cat from Carmel Market

 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

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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 Rotem Teplow depict the sights and scenes, as well as the diversity, of contemporary Tel Aviv. However, it is puzzling why the author chose to use the Yiddish word for grandmother; the Hebrew word Savta would have made much more sense given the setting of the story. A natural pairing with The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street by Ann Redisch Stampler but would also work well with Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff and Once Upon a Shabbos by Jacqueline Jules for a fun, Shabbat and cooking themed storytime.

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A synagogue librarian since 1997, reviewer Rachel Kamin is currently the Director of the Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. She served as chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and as the Book Review Editor for Children & Teens for AJL Reviews. She authors articles and reviews for BookLinks, The Jewish Book Council, Judaica Librarianship, Library Journal, and School Library Journal. She contributed a chapter on children’s books to The Tot Shabbat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Engaging Young Families in Congregational Life edited by Paula Feldstein (URJ Press, 2010) and co-authored a chapter about Jewish children’s literature for Reading and Teaching with Diverse Nonfiction Children’s Books: Representations and Possibilities, to be published in the summer of 2021 by the National Council for Teachers of English.