Review: Anything Is Possible

Anything Is Possible

by Rochel Sandman, illustrated by Chana Zakashansky-Zverev

Hachai Publishing, 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Chava Pinchuck
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Bubbe Hinda and Zayde Mendel have fled from their home. It is wartime, and all resources are in short supply. Zayde Mendel is worried that there will not be matzah for Passover, and Bubbe Hinda sets out to make it happen. She goes to the farmer, who has no extra wheat. When she sees his worn-out boots, she offers some leather for wheat. Her next stop is the leather tanner, who has no extra leather, and a leaky roof. Bubbe Hinda offers tin to fix the roof in exchange for the leather. From there, she goes to the scrap dealer. He has no extra tin, but Bubbe Hinda notices his daughter’s shawl has holes, and offers to bring wool to knit a new one. Finally, Bubbe Hinda meets an old woman with a sheep. She asks for some wool, but the old woman says she has no extra for sale. Bubbe Hinda asks if there is anything she could give her in exchange for the wool. The old woman longs to have matzah at her Pesach Seder. And so, Bubbe takes the wool and makes the exchanges with everyone until she and Zayde Mendel get the flour, bake the matzah, and give some to the old woman, proving that “With Hashem’s help, anything is possible.” The repetition of this line makes this a good candidate for a read aloud, and the cast of characters would make great Reader’s Theater. The illustrations are a bit old-fashioned, but they suit the story.

While the goal is to get the wheat to make matzah, and it seems impossible, Bubbe Hinda does not give up and is confident that Hashem (God) will help. Reliance on God is an important Jewish value. It is a clever tale, and all readers will enjoy the happy ending. (Hachai released a similar book this year, The Secret Journey, where a family in Communist Russia in 1953 does their upmost to get matzah to their father and his fellow inmates in a prison camp.) 

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Reviewer Chava (Kathe) Pinchuck worked in private and public libraries in New Jersey before making aliyah in 2012. In Israel she has worked as a cataloger of legal documents and a cybrarian for a distance learning institution. She is a past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, past co-editor of the Children's and YA Book Reviews for AJL News and Reviews, and the current editor of the Jewish Values Finder, a database of Jewish children's books. [Ed. Note: Chava is one of the co-chairs of The Sydney Taylor Shmooze.]