TOO YOUNG FOR YIDDISH

Richard Michelson, Author, Neil Waldman, Illustrator , illus. by Neil Waldman. Charlesbridge/Talewinds $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-88106-118-5

Michelson, best known for such witty collections of verse as Animals That Ought to Be, returns to the intergenerational themes of his Grandpa's Gamble for this nostalgic volume, handsomely illustrated by Waldman (The Golden City) in a sepia-toned palette recalling old family albums. Aaron, a baseball enthusiast who roots for the Brooklyn Dodgers, watches as his zayde (grandfather) moves in, bringing his library of Yiddish books ("Had Zayde really read them all? Each with its own ideas and mysteries. Each with its own secret world"). But Zayde declines to teach Aaron Yiddish: "[In America] Jews should speak English just like everyone else." Not until after Aaron has graduated from high school does he realize the importance of learning about Zayde's Yiddish heritage. In the end, Aaron teaches his own son Yiddish. Michelson sprinkles the text with Yiddish and the publisher has bound the book "back to front," like a Yiddish book. The story possesses both power and pathos, and its message, that Yiddish is an endangered language, is urgent. The afterword, which will hold readers' attention as well, describes Aaron's real-life counterpart, founder of the National Yiddish Book Center. Michelson's delivery, from its grown-up protagonist to its exhortation to learn a language not readily available to most children, may make the book best suited to sharing with a grandparent or parent. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/14/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 32 pages - 978-1-60734-465-0
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-88106-119-2
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