Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jewish Literature Challenge, 3 of 5

Bagels from Benny, by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. First published: 2003. Click on the cover to buy from your local Booksense-affiliated independent bookseller.

Bagels from Benny won a Sydney Taylor Book Award and is suitable for elementary-school-aged children.

Bagels from Benny is a very sweet picture book that tells the story of Benny, a little boy who loves to help out at his grandfather's bakery and wants to find a way to thank God for his grandfather's wonderful bagels. He hits upon the idea of leaving a bag of bagels in his synagogue's ark- where the Torah is kept- because it just seems sensible to leave a gift for God in with His book. A poor man who comes to pray finds the bagels- and believes they are from God. When Benny's grandfather finds out what Benny has been doing with his bagels, grandfather and grandson share an important lesson about the transformational power of kindness and generosity. It's a really lovely story with an important lesson, based on an ancient Jewish legend from Spain. Petricic's illustrations in watercolor and pencil are by turns funny and beautiful and echo the emotional tones well. I love Bagels from Benny!

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