In an attempt to marry traditional Yiddish vocabulary, Jewish content, and a healthy boost to the confidence and self-esteem of preschool children, Anne-Marie Asner has written a series of picture books featuring children’s personality traits, flavored with colorful illustrations and a light-hearted, humorous approach to daily life.
Previous books in the series have featured the following characters: Shmutzy Girl, who is generally covered in mud; Kvetchy Boy, who loves to complain; Shluffy Girl, who likes sleeping more than any other activity; Noshy Boy, whose favorite pastime is snacking; and others. The latest book in the series, Bubby and Zaide, features the children’s grandparents who, in traditional grandparent mode, always manage to find the good qualities behind each child’s foibles.
Seen through the eyes of loving Bubbe and Zaide, Shmutzy Girl is messy due to her infectious enthusiasm and zest for life, Noshy Boy appreciates only the very best, Shluffy Girl’s sleepiness shows independence of spirit, and Kvetchy Boy isn’t really complaining; he’s simply analyzing what he sees. The story proves something many have always known: there is nothing like a loving grandparent who is patient and supportive in order to encourage a child’s accomplishments and to bolster that child’s inner strength. Warm, caring bubbes and zaides may not be the only ingredients to achieving success in life, but they are absolutely invaluable.
This affirming, wholesome book, with its homey Yiddish sensibility, will be enjoyed by children but will be infused with extra taam if read on the lap of a caring grandparent or grandparent-substitute, accompanied by laughter, sweetness, and joy.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.