Purim Good­ies

Amalia Hoff­man, author and illustrator
  • Review
By – November 14, 2011
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.

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