Tuesday, June 21, 2022

I Hate Borsch!


I Hate Borsch! / Yevgenia Nayberg
Grand Rapids, Michigan : Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2022.
56 p.

This deceptively simple picture book is a great read. It's not much of a narrative arc -- the main character hates borsch as a child. From the beets to the slimy tomatoes, it's all an ICK from her. None of the babas anywhere in Kyiv can convince her it's good. 

But then she immigrates to the US and finds that she misses borsch and all it means to her. And she comes to like it after all, as do her own children later on. 

There are really lovely illustrations in this book, fun and quirky. (the author both wrote and illustrated the book). I felt quite connected to this little story, as when I was a child I also hated Borsch! I didn't like beets at all. Now of course, there's nothing better :) She includes a recipe for quick borsch at the end, and also says not to tell her that it's not the way YOUR grannie made it...there are hundreds of different ways to make borsch, depending on who's doing it. I found that quite funny.

The book is quite sweet but there is also more to it than just talking about food. It's about food as a cultural identifier, about the connection to the past and to the larger cultural identity. It's only when she's left Ukraine that she realizes how much it means and why their family would make and eat it so often. There's room for discussion with children after reading this quiet little book together, and it made this adult reader thoughtful as well as amused. A great mix. 

1 comment:

  1. Are tomatoes the difference between borsch and borscht?


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