Review: My Name is Hamburger

My Name Is Hamburger

by Jacqueline Jules

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2022

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Naomi Morse

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My Name is Hamburger tells the historically accurate experiences of a lone Jewish child in a small Southern town in the 1960’s. Children were expected to be quiet about being Jewish in 1960’s, as Jews and foreigners were not welcomed in many small towns. Fourth grader Trudie Hamburger is the only Jewish child in her small town school. The class bully teases her hatefully about her foreign sounding Jewish name, while her teachers look the other way. She is quiet while her classmates sing Christmas Carols, and is sent to the library, where she helps shelve books and talks to the librarian. She doesn’t return to music class until long after the Christmas season. Trudie excels in spelling and reading, and wins a trophy with her name, Trudie Hamburger, engraved on the base. She finds a way to quiet the bully and to feel proud of her name, Hamburger, and her Jewish heritage.

Jacqueline Jules’ book is hand sized, 5x7” and printed in verse form. Each line of text has only five or six words surrounded by lots of white space. The text is divided into chapters only two pages long. This makes reading fast and easy for children. The attractive cover illustration of Trudie by Mira Miroslavova will help it fly off the shelf and into children’s hands.

Positive Jewish identity is an important part of Trudie’s experience. She and her family drive thirty miles each way on Shabbat to attend Beth Israel congregation, “the place miles from where I live,where I feel most at home.” Wearing her grandmother’s golden Jewish star necklace is an source of comfort and happiness for Trudie. This holdable and readable book is highly recommended for every public library and school library. It is an important book for both Jewish and non-Jewish children.
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Reviewer Naomi Morse had a long career as a children’s librarian in several public libraries, and as the lower school librarian at the Charles E.Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md. She also worked as the weekend reference librarian at the U.S Holocaust Museum Library. She has served on the Sydney Taylor Committee and on the Caldecott committee. Her lifelong interests include story telling, poetry, painting and writing. She is retired and enjoys dancing with an Improvisational Dance group called Quicksilver.