cover image THE MATZO BALL BOY


Lisa Shulman, , illus. by Rosanne Litzinger. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47169-1

"Run, run, as fast as you can./ You can't catch me./ I'm the matzo ball man!" So goes the taunt of the dumpling protagonist in this familiar fairy tale re-imagined with a Jewish spin. Bubbe is all alone on Passover ("could they be bothered to visit their mother?" she complains of her children) so she whips up a Seder companion from matzo meal. Unfortunately for Bubbe, however, the matzo ball boy would rather see the world than be dished up for dinner, and he soon has the villagers giving chase as well as a hungry fox offering to help him make a river crossing. But recognizable plot points aside, the matzo ball boy receives a comeuppance many readers will find deliciously entertaining. "(You were maybe expecting a different ending?)," the last page playfully queries. Schulman (Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop ) combines a favorite story with dashes of silliness and broad strokes of Jewish-centric humor to make this an offbeat complement to the holiday library. Litzinger's (Louella May, She's Run Away! ) stylized watercolor-and-colored-pencil artwork—comprised mostly of round, bold forms and some cubist-influenced shapes—features a sunny backdrop and scenes of high-octane fun. An author's note includes information about Passover and a glossary defines the Yiddish terms sprinkled throughout the text. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)