Review: Bubbe and Bart's Matzoh Ball Mayhem

Bubbe and Bart's Matzoh Ball Mayhem

by Bonnie Grubman, illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Intergalactic Afikomen

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Lila Spitz 

In this playful and entertaining book, chaos ensues when Bubbe and her Jewish puppy Bart cook matzoh ball soup for Shabbat dinner. As the matzoh balls bubble out of the pot, Bart playfully catches them in order from one to seven. Grubman’s use of rhyming couplets, figurative language, and clever word choices create an educational and lively story for young readers. The projectile matzoh balls in the book serve multiple purposes; to teach readers to count and to keep intended readers engaged with the story. The cartoon-like illustrations convey a welcoming and playful environment familiar to young readers. The characters featured in the story are diverse in age and country of origin. School-aged children, parents and a grandparent are represented in the story. The book incorporates characters with diverse skin tones, hair color, and hair type. (redhead, freckled, olive skinned, black hair, brown hair, curly hair, and straight hair).

This book meets the Sydney Taylor Book Award criteria in many ways. Bubbe and Bart's Matzoh Ball Mayhem authentically portrays a Jewish family eating traditional foods and celebrating Shabbat together. English and Yiddish phrases appear throughout and emphasize the importance of language in the celebration of Shabbat. Blessing the candles, cleaning the house, and greeting guests with “Shabbat Shalom” are just a few of the many Jewish customs detailed in the book. Back matter includes a glossary of Yiddish terms and outlines Shabbat traditions. Bubbe and Bart’s Matzoh Ball Mayhem is a delightful read-aloud selection for children ages three to eight that authentically and accurately features food and supplies specific to Shabbat. Recommended.

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Reviewer Lila Spitz recently received her MLIS from Catholic University and is currently working as a Federal Contractor for a government library. Prior to her time as a contractor, she worked in pubic libraries. For two years she worked Alexandria Library as a library page and aide. For more than three years she volunteered at Arlington County Public Library shelving, providing readers' advisory and leading storytime. When she is not reading, you can find her swing dancing or playing tennis.