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Library : Book Reviews > Too Young for Yiddish

Too Young for Yiddish 
By Richard Michelson

Published By Charlesbridge Publishing

Review by: Yvonne Gaudet

     “Too Young for Yiddish” is the story of a young boy, named Aaron, and his Zayde (grandfather). When Aaron’s Bubbeh (grandmother) passes away, his Zayde moves in with Aaron and his family, When Aaron helps to carry Zayde’s belongings into his room, he notices a lot of books. As he takes a closer look at the books, he notices that they are written in a different language. Aaron’s mother tells him that Zayde speaks Yiddish from the old country, Aaron, not knowing much about the old country, begs his Zayde to teach him the Yiddish Language. Zayde laughs and tells Aaron that in the Old Country, things were very different because the Jews were forced to live in the ghettos and were not allowed to play with the other children He went on to tell Aaron that in America, all Jewish boys can play with whomever they wish. He compared America .to a bowl of soup, where everything mixes together. He told Aaron that he needed to concentrate on his studies.
      Time passes and Aaron does become busy with his studies, just as Zayde had said. Then Zayde goes to live in a Home for the aged. Aaron asks again, but Zayde refuses to teach Aaron how to read and write Yiddish. Again time passes, 10 years in fact, Aaron graduates from high school and Zayde, aging as well and having problems with his eyesight, moves into a nursing home. When Aaron offers to pack Zayde’s books for him, he learns that the books are at the edge of the curb waiting to be picked up with the trash. Aaron goes outside to the edge of the driveway and proceeds to load all of Zayde’s books into his car. Aaron tells his Zayde, not to worry about his failing eyesight, he will learn Yiddish, and will come to read to him as often as possible. Does Aaron do this for his loving Zayde? Does Aaron prove to his Zayde that maybe he is not too young to learn Yiddish? Does Aaron, in his adult years, find a way to keep the Yiddish language alive for his family? These question and many more are answered in this greatly educational book. As an added bonus this book also contains a page full of Jewish terms and meanings as well as the pronunciations. There is another page with more advanced information about the origins of the Yiddish language.
      Upon first picking up this book, you notice that the book has been bound backwards and you think there has been a mistake made in the production. However when you open the book you learn that this is how Yiddish books normally are, printed back to front. They read ‘right to left’ as well. This book would be a great addition to any classroom, as it teaches about a different culture and different languages. Beautifully illustrated by Neil Waldman, an award-winning artist, with soft almost life-like pictures, I would recommend this book for ages 5-10. As a closing remark, I found this book very educational, and thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with my daycare children. Mazel tov!


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