A New Boy

Eve Tal; Ora Shwartz, illus.
  • Review
By – April 2, 2012
Although there is a real need for bilin­gual Hebrew-Eng­lish books, this sto­ry suf­fers from some harsh trans­la­tions, occa­sion­al­ly using words that are inap­pro­pri­ate for a pic­ture book. Boris, a recent Israeli immi­grant (“ole hadash”) from Rus­sia does not yet know Hebrew. The chil­dren in his new school spec­u­late on what an immi­grant” is and some are friend­ly, but the nar­ra­tor, anoth­er boy from his class, calls him a dum­my” among oth­er names, and gets into phys­i­cal alter­ca­tions with him. (Anoth­er boy in class cries after being called a show-off”, and in anoth­er instance, the word vom­it” is used instead of the prop­er trans­la­tion of the Hebrew word, mag­il”, mean­ing dis­gust­ing”.) The con­flict is resolved when the narrator’s father goes away to army reserve duty and the young boy real­izes that Boris was being hos­tile because he was unhap­py. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he wel­comes Boris by throw­ing peb­bles at him. The idea of how to wel­come a new stu­dent is a uni­ver­sal child­hood expe­ri­ence, but the way this sit­u­a­tion is han­dled in this book is not the mod­el most teach­ers or par­ents would like our chil­dren to emu­late. Ages 5 – 7.
Susan Dubin was the first librar­i­an hon­ored with a Milken Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Jew­ish Edu­ca­tor Award. She is the owner/​director of Off-the-Shelf Library Ser­vices and library instruc­tion­al con­sul­tant at Val­ley Beth Shalom Day School in Enci­no, CA.

Discussion Questions