Review: The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips

The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips

by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Omer Hoffman

Green Bean Books

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili 

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 The illustrations are appropriately very crisp and imbued with various blue tones which perfectly suit the subject matter. As well, each page is filled with many different characters and scenes with fine detail that children will enjoy.
Back matter includes an Author’s Note which describes in greater detail how this beloved dish of fish and chips originated based on what information is known. This is followed by a recipe for Fried Fish, rounding out this delicious entry which caused a strong craving for fish and chips in this reviewer, who was enthused to try out the recipe. Overall, although the background of this book has its origins in a part of Britain’s Jewish history, it would be enjoyed by young readers of all faiths and especially those with a special interest in food-related subjects.
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Reviewer Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili is the author of several books for children including SHLOIMIE’S LETTER, which was illustrated by her husband, THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST WATCH, and I LOVE MATZAH. A second-generation Canadian, she lives with her family in Toronto. (Bio illustration courtesy of Michael Biniashvili.)