What an apt title! Here is a Purim goody with a new tack — holiday unfettered by bible story — and with legs — based on a work by Sholom Aleichem. Author/illustrator Amalia Hoffman focuses on the tradition of shalach manes through a delightful Yiddish tale, humorous characters, and delicious Purim treats. The moral, delivered by the rabbi, is as digestible as the entire picture book. Two servants dressed in hand-me-downs and rags head for each other’s households to deliver the annual treat. They meet enroute, stop to savor, and, before they realize it, gobble up all the goodies. The recipients consider the empty trays a hostile mockery and stop talking to each other. The wise rabbi shames the couples, restoring peace and teaching a lesson. The contrite servants bake hamentaschen for all the town poor and share their recipes with readers. The setting is an Ashkenazic town large enough to hold various economic levels. The time is deduced from the pictures: plumbing, lighting, stoves, pocket watches, printed books and modern eyeglasses. This is an “in” story: the plot relies on young readers knowing Purim and its custom of sending gifts of food. The afterword offers bare bones holiday background; the ending glossary has no definition of Purim. The text meshes colorful description and dialogue. Muted art supports and enhances the text, incorporating word balloons, interesting-looking individuals, food as still life, and corner commentaries from bizarre figures. Biblical images and Jewish symbols float through the pages, noting the naturalness of Jewish identity for all characters, including household animals. The glossary defines Yiddish vocabulary. Ages 6 – 9.
Erin Cantor is an interior designer, teacher of reading and math to third-graders, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer.