Way Meat Loves Salt

Nina Jaffe, Author, Louise August, Illustrator Henry Holt & Company $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4384-6
Despite the subtitle, this is not strictly a Cinderella tale so much as a patchwork of two or three fairy tales, including Cinderella, brought to a Polish-Jewish setting. It begins as a variant on the tale in which a father asks each of his three daughters to declare how much she loves him; the older two answer in obvious ways (""as much as diamonds""; ""as much as gold and silver""), but the third says, ""I love you the way meat loves salt."" The father here, a rabbi, misunderstands and exiles the youngest daughter, who, in this case, receives a magic stick from a stranger (he turns out to be the prophet Elijah). She takes refuge in the house of a faraway rabbi with a handsome son. Add in a wedding (in place of a ball) and the story becomes Cinderella-ish, with the girl using the magic stick to conjure up a pretty dress, shoes and transportation. A missing slipper soon leads to the girl's own wedding with aforesaid handsome son. The wedding supper is prepared without salt, prompting sudden understanding from the bride's father. August endows the story with gorgeously colored linocuts as intimate and attractively homespun as for In the Month of Kislev (written by Jaffe); like Jaffe, she can convey a warm ethnic tradition with her own sophisticated touches and discreet flair. But even with Jaffe's supple, classically cadenced prose, the seams show--the story is best for readers who want the Jewish backdrop. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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