Review: The Porridge Pot Goblin

The Porridge-Pot Goblin

by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Hector Borlasca

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Leah Cypess

The Porridge-Pot Goblin is a charming picture book in which an invisible goblin disrupts the Shabbat preparations of two village children. After several mishaps and some chaos, the children outsmart the goblin and save the Shabbat meal (and their mother’s nap).

The story focuses on Shabbat preparations, and the chaos of the goblin’s mischief is contrasted to the peace and happiness of the Friday night meal, in a way that makes the atmosphere of Shabbat feel almost tangible. The well-written text and delightful illustrations work together to bring this fun, humorous story to life. It should be a strong contender for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Illustration Editor Dena Bach adds: The illustrator sets the story in a shtetl-like village with lively, off-kilter images reminiscent of an early Chagall painting. However, it is puzzling, after all the trouble the children went through to rescue the kiddush cup, that the traditional-looking family (with mezzuzot on all the doors!) is shown digging into their soup before saying the blessings over the wine and challah, as is the tradition, as evidenced by the full goblet and untouched loaves.

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Reviewer Leah Cypess is the author of the middle grade series Sisters Ever After. The second book in the series, GLASS SLIPPERS, was published in April 2022 by Delacorte/Random House. Leah also writes Judaica books under the pen name “Leah Sokol.” Her most recent Judaica book, THE MOST ANNOYING ALIENS EVER, was published by Apples & Honey Press in October 2022.