This story is set in London in an East End tenement in 1908. Becky is an eleven- year-old girl living with her father, Jacob, her brother, Yossie, and her grandmother, called Bubbe. Her mother has died. They are Russian Jewish immigrants who escaped to England to avoid the pogroms. Bubbe has taken ill with arthritis and has trouble performing all the duties in the house even with the help of a washing girl, Meg. Jacob decides that it is time for him to remarry and he consults a matchmaker. Becky instantly dislikes Mrs. Haffner, the proposed “new mother,” and tries to explain why to the adults in her life. Her opinions are considered the rants of a child, and each “but” that Becky raises is dismissed. She takes to writing letters to her deceased mother as a way to allow her feelings to be expressed. Eventually, she successfully manipulates the situation in a way that creatively solves all of the problems. Throughout the tale, the reader learns much about the life, culture, and hard- ships of being a Russian Jew in the tenements. This is a story of love, friendship, Judaism, and financial struggles as well as a tale of the timeless hardships of being a misunderstood child. Recommended for ages 9 – 11.
Drora Arussy, Ed.D., is an educational consultant who specializes in integrating Jewish and secular studies, the arts into education, and creative teaching for excellence in Jewish education. She is the mother to four school-age children and has taught from pre-school through adult. Drora is an adjunct professor of Hebrew language at Drew University.