Git­ty and Kvetch

Car­o­line Kusin Pritchard, Ariel Landy (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – April 3, 2022

Git­ty is a hap­py and opti­mistic lit­tle girl; her friend, Kvetch the owl, is just the oppo­site. While Git­ty sees a beau­ti­ful sun­ny day as full of oppor­tu­ni­ties, Kvetch warns that fluffy clouds can quick­ly turn into a men­ace. In fact, while Git­ty sees one cloud as a gazelle run­ning across the savan­na,” Kvetch sees its neigh­bor­ing cloud as a preda­to­ry lion run­ning toward din­ner.” If this were just anoth­er children’s pic­ture book about the joys of look­ing on the bright side of life, it could be grat­ing. Instead, Car­o­line Kusin Pritchard and Ariel Landy prove that moods can be sit­u­a­tion­al. Even a child as resilient as Git­ty can expe­ri­ence despair, and even an owl as neg­a­tive as Kvetch can cheer up and sup­port his friend.

Landy’s pic­tures are buoy­ant, with many bright col­ors against a back­ground of vio­let and rose hues. Git­ty is not a gener­ic image of joy, but a spe­cif­ic child with dark wavy hair, almond-shaped eyes, and bound­less ener­gy. She is also artis­tic, and her pride in a recent­ly cre­at­ed paint­ing turns to anguish when the rain that Kvetch had pre­dict­ed becomes a real­i­ty. See­ing his friend so upset, Kvetch is sud­den­ly able to sum­mon up cop­ing resources in order to help her. Adding a Jew­ish dimen­sion to the sto­ry, he uses Yid­dish words as a humor­ous arse­nal against adver­si­ty. Before the dis­as­ter, he had called his friend meshuge” for sug­gest­ing that their day would be delight­ful. Now, with Gitty’s sog­gy pic­ture appar­ent­ly ruined, he imag­i­na­tive­ly trans­forms it into a flower vase, a door­mat, and a pair of binoc­u­lars. After all, the owl observes, a lit­tle bit of … shmuts” is not a cri­sis; he now admon­ish­es Git­ty to stop kvetch­ing and sal­vage their day togeth­er. Less-than-per­fect can still be pret­ty good.

Young read­ers learn that per­son­al­i­ties may not be as fixed as they seem. The most elat­ed child, con­front­ed by dis­ap­point­ment, often feels as pow­er­less as Kvetch. On the oth­er hand, the grumpy lit­tle owl turns out to be capa­ble of change. When the book begins, he accom­pa­nies Gitty’s excit­ing pre­dic­tions with deflat­ing dos­es of real­i­ty. She sees love­ly clouds; he inter­prets them as a sign to move our tuchus­es.” Like the Jew­ish response to events embod­ied in the Yid­dish lan­guage, Kvetch is not wrong. The bad weath­er, which he cor­rect­ly pre­dicts, does damp­en Gitty’s art­work. Yet, like Yid­dish itself, Kvetch is flex­i­ble. Dis­ap­point­ment can be trans­formed into new alter­na­tives. The fact that the book cen­ters this gen­tle les­son in the con­text of an ordi­nary child­hood event, not a moment of real trau­ma, is impor­tant. Kvetch the owl may not share Gitty’s intense sense of adven­ture, but he helps her to under­stand the impor­tance of hav­ing a friend.

Git­ty and Kvetch includes a glos­sary of Yid­dish words.

Emi­ly Schnei­der writes about lit­er­a­ture, fem­i­nism, and cul­ture for TabletThe For­wardThe Horn Book, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, and writes about chil­dren’s books on her blog. She has a Ph.D. in Romance Lan­guages and Literatures.

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