The Enormous Potato ) successfully updates a centuries-old Jewish folktale (a traditional version can be found in Barba"/>

BAGELS FROM BENNY

Aubrey Davis, Author, Dusan Petricic, Illustrator , illus. by Dusan Petricic. Kids Can $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55337-417-6

Davis (previously paired with Petricic for The Enormous Potato ) successfully updates a centuries-old Jewish folktale (a traditional version can be found in Barbara Diamond Goldin's memorable Hanukkah anthology, While the Candles Burn ). Benny's grandfather bakes wonderful bagels, but teaches Benny that it is God, not him, who should be thanked for them ("Aren't bagels made with flour?"... "Doesn't flour come from wheat?"... "And where does wheat come from?"... "And who made the earth?"... "Then thank God for the bagels"). Benny wants to make sure God knows he's grateful, so he decides to thank Him by stashing a big bag of bagels in the Ark at his synagogue; the bagels disappear, leading Benny to think that God has eaten them, so he repeats his gift every Friday. When Benny learns that a poor man has been eating the bagels, he feels disappointed until his grandfather points out that by helping the poor man, Benny has thanked God ("You made the world a little better"). In creating a child protagonist and introducing an intergenerational element, Davis increases the folktale's accessibility to young readers, and his fluid prose, too, is welcoming. Unfortunately, Petricic's illustrations don't match the warmth of the story. Caricatures distance the audience from the emotions and the action, and a predominantly brown palette, although strategically accented with bright colors, dampens the visual interest. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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