I am always hungry. I was hungry when I read these books and writing reviews for them made me hungry. And while you may or may not be able to devour good food, soon you will be able to devour Bring Back the Babka! (I was able to read a special finished copy provided to me by my lovely Barefoot Books deal!) And 2024 will show us my other read of food, glorious food!
When brothers search for their mother’s missing babka in Bring Back the Babka!, we see how a community comes together. The idea behind Marilyn Wolpin’s story is simple: the mother of our two adventures has no babka to serve and the rabbi is coming. The boys go off to ask neighbors if they have seen it. In this Gingerbread Man-like concept, instead of chasing and eventually the fox/wolf/animal eating the Gingerbread Man, we find how a community shares, and when they hear a neighbor is in trouble, how they help. Finally, we see the diverse nature of each dish they bring is all part of their Jewish heritage.
At first, the setting of things looked like it was “historical” but no one area was jumping out. Come to find out Madison Safer’s illustration dates things as being set in Today. How do we know? One of the women we meet has some lovely tattooed sleeves. Her arms are covered with tattoos. And we have a female rabbi. Both these facts are “no big deal” and “normalized” which is a treat.
The artwork itself is a combination of realistic and slightly cartoon (not cartoonish) imagery. The colors are earthy and natural toned. Even the home’s decoration and clothing fit into browns, blues, even yellows. Of course, all colors are used, just not overwhelmingly. Included are some recipes and more information on where the foods come from, and we see they are as diverse as the people of the story. Barefoot Books has done it again with this due in hardcover and paper October 2023, delightful story. I have a hard time picking a favorite image. So, basically the book is my favorite one.
Another delightful story, but one I will not say a lot about as it is due mid-May 2024 is Rising by Sidura Ludwig. This story is a bit more familiar to me as I have read a few picture books (like this) and stories about Shabbat gatherings. The process is lovingly shown with soft, pastel, but strong colors and imagery by Sophia Vincent Guy. The act itself not only reflects the meaning of the food and the reason, but the growing family the child narrator is part of. Included is a challah recipe the author enjoys, along with a glossary and an author’s note.