Rachel Kamin is the Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. A past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Rachel is currently the co-editor of Book Reviews for Children & Teens for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter. She holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.
Memories of Babi
While her Newbery Honor Book, Upon the Head of the Goat, tells the story of her childhood in Hungary during World War II and the sequel, Grace in the Wilderness, recounts her experiences after liberation, some 20 years later, Aranka Siegal revisits her childhood before the war. Focusing on the time she spent with her beloved grandmother, Babi, who lived alone on a small farm just across the Hungarian border in Ukraine, Siegal’s nine interrelated stories impart simple yet valuable lessons of faith, honesty, hard work, compassion, and courage. She paints a nostalgic but realistic picture of country life — gathering mushrooms, spinning thread, baking challah, and plucking chickens — but also exposes the tensions between Christians and Jews and the undercurrents of anti-Semitism, revealing Babi’s fate at the hands of the Nazis at the end of the final story. The appended recipes add charm to this beautifully written, delightful collection. Ages 10 – 12.
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