Get­ting to Know Ruben Plotnick

Roz Rosen­bluth; Mau­rie J. Man­ning, illus.
  • Review
By – August 20, 2012
Ruben Plot­nick is the coolest kid in class, and David is delight­ed when the Plot­nick” wants to come over to do home­work with him. Delight­ed, that is, until he begins think­ing about his senile grandmother’s errat­ic behav­ior and how weird it will seem to Ruben. His worst fears come true because Grand­ma Rosie at first doesn’t speak and then sud­den­ly demands that Ruben dance with her, call­ing him by her late husband’s name. What fun he will make of this in school, David thinks, but Ruben proves that he is a men­sch by danc­ing with Grand­ma and not mak­ing fun of it lat­er. I’m glad I’m get­ting to know Ruben Plot­nick,” thinks David at the con­clu­sion, acknowl­edg­ing that under his friend’s zany exte­ri­or, there is a warm heart. Despite the whole­some val­ues this book imparts, there is noth­ing Jew­ish about it, unless you con­sid­er names like Ruben Plot­nick, David, and Nate, Jew­ish con­tent.” Chil­dren of the age who will read it most like­ly won’t get the asso­ci­a­tion. More of this type of cul­tur­al­ly neu­tral book with a Jew­ish sub­text is being pub­lished: Mim­my and Sophie All Around the Town by Miri­am Cohen (Far­rar, Straus and Giroux, 2004) is a well-writ­ten exam­ple while Jane Bre­skin Zalben’s Baby Bab­ka, the Gor­geous Genius (Clar­i­on, 2004) is coy and inau­then­tic. Rosenbluth’s sto­ry and the accom­pa­ny­ing illus­tra­tions cer­tain­ly have child appeal but noth­ing that con­nects the val­ues they impart to Judaism. For ages 7 – 9.
Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

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