Pick­led Watermelon

Esty Schachter; Alex Orbe, illus.

  • Review
By – July 11, 2018

Instead of spend­ing the sum­mer with her friends at camp, Mol­ly goes to Israel for a month for a fam­i­ly wed­ding. She is ner­vous about the trip, not want­i­ng to leave her beloved Bubbe to go to a for­eign coun­try and stay with fam­i­ly she’s nev­er met, who speak a lan­guage she bare­ly knows. How­ev­er, Mol­ly is pleas­ant­ly sur­prised by Israel and the peo­ple she meets there. She learns to com­mu­ni­cate with her fam­i­ly on the kib­butz through laugh­ter, smiles, and splash­ing in the pool. Her aunt and uncle speak Eng­lish with her and tell her about her family’s roots and the sights and his­to­ry of Israel. She even learns to under­stand her grand­par­ents, Saf­ta and Saba,who don’t speak Eng­lish but are lov­ing and want to con­nect with their granddaughter.

This sweet sto­ry offers vivid descrip­tions of Israel in the 1980s, and offers his­to­ry lessons woven in through fam­i­ly lore, along with a healthy dose of Jew­ish education.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

Discussion Questions