My Yiddish Vacation

Ione Skye, illus. by Scott Menchin. Holt/Ottaviano, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9512-8

When Ruth and her older brother, Sammy, spend the weekend with their beloved Jewish grandparents in a Florida retirement community, it’s a sociolinguistic holiday, as well: everyone there peppers their conversation with Yiddish, the language in which “the words are fun to say and sound like what they mean.” Skye, the actress who played the object of affection in Say Anything, makes her children’s book debut with a loving, lighthearted salute to a truly great and, sadly, vanishing generation (for most readers, the people represented in the book would be great-great grandparents). While Skye curiously omits mensch (which may make some adults plotz), readers will come away knowing 18 other evocative Yiddish words, including shpilkes (the impatient excitement before vacation begins), tchotchkes (the knickknacks that fill Grandma’s home), and meshuggener (the nutty persona kids assume at the clubhouse pool). Along the way, there are also tips of the hat to enormous swimsuits, flocked wallpaper, and plastic slipcovered furniture, all affectionately seconded by Menchin’s (Harry Goes to Dog School) bright, cartooned vignettes. Ages 5–8. [em]Author’s agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee. Pippin Properties. (May) [/em]
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