In this unoriginal retelling of the nursery tale of the ginger bread man, Bubbe’s matzo ball boy jumps out of the pot and runs away just before Passover, shouting
Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the matzo ball man!” He runs away from the tailor, the village gossip, and the rabbi. And, while he manages to outwit the fox, he accepts an invitation for the Passover Seder from a poor man and his wife and ends up right back where he came from — in a hot pot of matzo ball soup. The illustrations are bright and attractive but it is unfortunate that the illustrator did not try to match the text more accurately. Shulman cleverly describes the matzo ball boy with a
carrot-slice nose, a curving celery mouth, and peppercorn eyes and buttons,” but Litzinger omits these details and depicts him with a tuft of hair, human-like eyes, a round red nose, and a black-lined mouth with rosy cheeks. Yiddish words like schmaltz, schneider, yenta, schlemiel
, and boychik
are sprinkled into the text, but their inclusion is awkward and forced despite the glossary at the end of the book. Matzah Man
by Naomi Howland (Clarion, 2002
) and The Runaway Latkes by Leslie Kimmelman (Albert Whitman, 2000
) are more creative Jewish adaptations of this familiar story. Recommended as an additional purchase for libraries and schools serving preschoolers.