cover image Alte Zachen/Old Things

Alte Zachen/Old Things

Ziggy Hanaor, illus. by Benjamin Phillips. Cicada, $22.99 (72p) ISBN 978-1-8006-6022-9

Benjy and his Bubbe Rosa are at odds in Hanaor (Alex and Alex) and debut creator Phillips’s expansive graphic novel. “You young people are so lazy.... You young people are always very rude,” Bubbe says whenever Benjy does something she considers to be illogical, as when he brings his own bags with them to grocery shop for Shabbat dinner (“You don’t need bags. They give you bags”). Bubbe’s ire continues; she lashes out at a grocery clerk she deems skimpily dressed, and tells Benjy, “you don’t even know what it means to be Jewish.” As the pair continue their shopping, making their way from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side and back again, Bubbe revisits memories from her past, including trauma from Nazi persecution and heartbreak over a road-not-taken romance. Softly lined watercolor art portrays a moving narrative that alternates between grayscale present-day spreads and Bubbe’s past in full color. Benjy is tender, patient, and conciliatory, and Bubbe takes comfort in knowing he’s her anchor when her memories or their surroundings overwhelm. Even as Benjy and Bubbe’s worldviews clash, the Yiddish-peppered telling renders a familial bond that is at once mercurial and unshakable. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)