Cover image for How Yussel caught the gefilte fish : a Shabbos story
How Yussel caught the gefilte fish : a Shabbos story
Herman, Charlotte.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
When he goes fishing with his father for the first time, a young boy hopes to catch the gefilte fish for his family's Shabbos dinner, but instead he catches a carp, a trout, and a pike.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 47737.
Added Author:
Format :


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PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Oversize

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Here is a story that beautifully combines the adventurous spirit of a father-son outing with the quiet inner joy of the Sabbath.

Yussel loves gefilte fish -- those large, delicious fish balls that Mama serves on Friday night at the Shabbos meal. Early every Friday morning, Papa leaves to catch the fish. And now, finally, Yussel is old enough to accompany him. At dawn they set off, and soon Yussel has caught a fat, gold-colored fish. "Nice and zaftig. It reminds me of your Aunt Goldie", says Papa. But since it's not round like a fish ball, Yussel is disappointed it's not a gefilte. And when he catches a trout (lively like cousin Hannah Rose) and a pike (stubborn like Uncle Harry), he's disappointed, too. What will they do without gefilte fish for the Shabbos meal?

In this gently humorous story of wide reach and warm words, Charlotte Herman evokes that remarkable feeling of a child's growing participation in a family occasion. Katya Krenina captures Yussel's moods -- and his final fuller understanding -- with illustrations shot through with the light of early morning and of Shabbos candles.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Naive Yussel is thrilled when his father takes him fishing but disappointed when he catches only ordinary fish and not a single gefilte fish for Shabbos dinner. His father doesn't care, however. Nor, it seems, does his mother, who lets him in on the joke by allowing him to help her turn his ordinary fish into the treat he's so fond of. Herman weaves a few Yiddish terms into her lovingly told story, which depicts a simpler time gone by. Krenina's artwork seems a trifle stiff, but the deep glowing colors she uses evoke a sense of warmth that perfectly matches the feeling of the story as Yussel comes to understand not only what goes into the making of his favorite dish but also the affection that permeates the holiday at which it is served. A glossary is appended. --Stephanie Zvirin

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Herman's story of a family's traditional celebration of the Jewish Sabbath suffers from an insubstantial plot. On Yussel's first fishing trip with his Papa he catches three big fish. Although none of the creatures looks like the round fish balls that his Mama makes every Shabbat, the two take them home. Yussel helps Mama prepare the meal, but is unable to understand what makes a gefilte fish. He goes to the synagogue, then shares the Sabbath meal with his extended family. Finally the boy understands that the peace evident in the family's celebration is the "special spice" that transforms a fish into a gefilte fish. The family in Krenina's attractive illustrations is dressed in the style of Eastern-European Jews of the late 19th century. Painted on backgrounds of pale green and shades of beige and brown, their round, stylized faces are reminiscent of paintings from the 1930s and '40s. While the story is well written and nicely illustrated, it seems improbable that a child who watches his mother cook the same meal each week wouldn't know that "gefilte fish" is the name of a cooked dish rather than a kind of fish. And Shabbat peace is a pretty heady ingredient (albeit a magical one) for a plate of fish balls. A marginal purchase.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.