Reviews for Matzo Ball Boy


Booklist Reviews 2005 February #1
PreS-Gr.1. In a delightful fractured version of The Gingerbread Boy, a grandma (bubbe), preparing for the Passover seder, makes a matzo ball boy, who jumps out of the chicken soup and runs off to see the world. He's pursued by the bubbe, the rabbi, the tailor (schneider), a gossip (yenta), and others; he even outruns a fox, who has a voice "as smooth as schmaltz" (chicken fat). The ending has a little twist, and the occasional Yiddish words (defined in the glossary) add a warm, droll tone ("Oy! Oy! Come back") to the tale, which is picked up in the bright, mischievous pictures showing the fun of the chase. Shulman concludes with a brief note about the holiday. This might start a family post-seder storytelling tradition. ((Reviewed February 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
In this Jewish version of "The Gingerbread Man," a lonely [cf2]bubbe[cf1] makes a matzo ball boy in her soup so he can join her for the Passover Seder. But the matzo ball boy runs away--from the [cf2]bubbe[cf1], from the rabbi, etc. The expressive pictures and light, folksy telling strike just the right tone for the story's sly humor. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #2
Shulman and Litzinger dish up a tasty Jewish version of the traditional "Gingerbread Man." A lonely old bubbe makes a matzo ball boy in her delicious chicken soup so he can join her for the Passover seder. But when she opens the pot, the matzo ball boy laughs and runs away -- from the old bubbe, from the yenta and her ten children, even from the rabbi -- crying, "Run, run, as fast as you can..." (you fill in the rest). With a knowing smirk, the boy passes on the fox's offer of a ride across the river -- "Ha! You must think I'm a real schlemiel!" -- but he's not so smart when he meets a poor, hungry couple whose soup is just a bit too thin. Both the expressive, stylized pictures and the light, folksy telling, sprinkled with Yiddish words, strike just the right tone for the story's sly humor and broad characterization. "So go, go! Have a good time!" the bubbe calls. "Not that I'm complaining, but is this the thanks I get for bringing you up from a bit of dough?" The ending is funny and fresh, serving both poetic and social justice in a bowl of matzo ball soup. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 January #1
This Passover version of "The Gingerbread Man" employs numerous Yiddishisms to tell the story of a runaway matzo ball boy as he escapes from the lonely bubbe (old grandmother) and her soup and then runs into and challenges the schneider (tailor), the yenta (village gossip), the rabbi, and a fox. Finally, he meets a poor man who invites the now weary and worn out matzo ball boy to a warm home where he's cleverly lured into another pot of chicken soup. As in the original, the repetitious refrain, "run, run, as fast as you can / you can't catch me. / I'm the matzo ball man!" follows the chase of the frantic and surprised characters who stand with upstretched arms and wide-opened mouths. Shulman interchanges man for boy for the sake of the rhyme and adds a bit of Jewish flavoring to the characters' reactions and dialogue. In an amusing twist, listeners or readers will not overlook matzo ball boy's sardonic reference to gingerbread. Litzinger's bright, colorful, rounded figures provide a shtetl and rural atmosphere to the very familiar story. (author's note, glossary of Yiddish words) (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 February #2
"Run, run, as fast as you can./ You can't catch me./ I'm the matzo ball man!" So goes the taunt of the dumpling protagonist in this familiar fairy tale re-imagined with a Jewish spin. Bubbe is all alone on Passover ("could they be bothered to visit their mother?" she complains of her children) so she whips up a Seder companion from matzo meal. Unfortunately for Bubbe, however, the matzo ball boy would rather see the world than be dished up for dinner, and he soon has the villagers giving chase as well as a hungry fox offering to help him make a river crossing. But recognizable plot points aside, the matzo ball boy receives a comeuppance many readers will find deliciously entertaining. "(You were maybe expecting a different ending?)," the last page playfully queries. Schulman (Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop) combines a favorite story with dashes of silliness and broad strokes of Jewish-centric humor to make this an offbeat complement to the holiday library. Litzinger's (Louella May, She's Run Away!) stylized watercolor-and-colored-pencil artwork-comprised mostly of round, bold forms and some cubist-influenced shapes-features a sunny backdrop and scenes of high-octane fun. An author's note includes information about Passover and a glossary defines the Yiddish terms sprinkled throughout the text. Ages 4-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 March
K-Gr 4-This original tale based on the "The Gingerbread Man" misses its mark. An old bubbe is lonely because none of her children come for Passover anymore, so she makes a matzo ball boy who, of course, runs off, tempting a variety of characters from a shtetl-style village. He outsmarts the fox and swims across the river, but gets eaten in the end. The use of traditional Jewish expressions and guilt clearly speaks to an adult audience, with children likely to miss the humor altogether. The Yiddish terms are translated within the text, which is intrusive considering that there is a glossary in the back; plus, the real audience for this story is likely to know their meanings already. The inclusion of some information about the holiday and a pronunciation guide is nice, although unlikely to make the piece accessible to readers not versed in Judaism. The stylized, folksy cartoon art, with its colorful backgrounds and bell-shaped women chasing the rotund, matzo ball boy, is comical and fun. The entertaining illustrations are likely to appeal to children, but the overly long text and adult humor make the audience unclear. Naomi Howland's The Matzah Man (Houghton, 2002) does the same sort of thing more effectively, with more child appeal.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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