Ben Aronin‘s “The Secret of the Sabbath Fish” shares a folk tale about the how the first gefilte fish was ever made. According to this legend poor woman prepared it after prophet Elijah, in the guise of a fisherman, gave her a splendid fish and instructions: “Don’t fry it, Matushka. And don’t bake it. But as you prepare it, think about what has been happening to the Jewish people“. The story teaches three simple lessons:
- Even if you are poor there are always poorer people who you can help.
- The importance of being joyous and sharing joy on Sabbath.
- The history of the Jewish people included a lot of suffering, but they continued to exist.
The book pages are not numbered, but the story and the images take up 42 pages themselves. Every page. Where you open the book you will find a drawing which fills almost a whole page and in some cases both pages. The text for each double page varies between 3 and 12 lines. Therefore the book is great for 3rd and 4th graders. They may also be more receptive to Shay Rieger‘s elegant, black and white charcoal drawings than smaller children who might require more colors to hold their attention.
The advantage of folktales is that they are ageless. So even thought this book was published in 1978 it doesn’t feel outdated, because it is missing any cultural references to the age it was prepared.