Review: The Blue Glass Heart
The Blue Glass Heart
by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Chiara Fedele
Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023
Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Elizabeth Suneby
The Blue Glass Heart is a quintessential circular journey picture book. It recounts the travels of a heart-shaped shard of blue glass across oceans—from New York to Florida to Venezuela to Tel Aviv and back to New York once again—and across generations, from Sarah who mistakenly broke her grandmother’s vase to her great granddaughter Ruth who receives the shard as a token of friendship and says to her mother, “Maybe this is a piece of Great-Grandma Sarah’s bowl.”
The story and illustrations are sweet and simple, likely to appeal to a young child who will enjoy hearing about the unlikely spots in which the shard appears in between its time in the sea—atop a sandcastle, hiding in a basket of clams, in fish stew, a pocket, and a lobster’s claw—and tickled that the blue glass makes it back to the same family!
Neither the story nor the illustrations are overtly Jewish, although Sarah, the protagonist who breaks the vase that creates the shard that travels the world, calls her grandmother “bubbe,” the Yiddish word for grandmother. And the shard travels to Tel Aviv where a father named “Dov,” gives it to his daughter, “Yael”—two Hebrew origin names. Oh, and you can say that it illustrates the Jewish concept of destiny, from the Yiddish word “beshert,” that a piece of a broken vase that travels far and wide over many years lands in the same family!
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