________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number X . . . . August 18, 1995

Bone Button Borscht

Aubrey Davis Illustrated by Dusan Petricic.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1995. 32 pages, cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 1-55074-224-8.

Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.


As he warmed himself by the stove he looked around the room. Suddenly he spotted a man in the shadows. It was the synagogue caretaker, the shamas.
"Shalom aleichem, peace be with you!" called the beggar.
The shamas did not answer.
"Strange," thought the beggar.
A glimmer crept into his eye, and the corner of his mouth turned up ever so slightly. He had an idea.
He grabbed one of the bone buttons on his coat and tugged.
Tchk. Off came the button.
Tchk. Tchk. Off came two more.
Tchk. And another.
Tchk. And another.
Still the shamas did not speak. But now he was looking at the beggar. Now he was curious.

This new version of the classic "Soup Stone" tale is filled with droll humour and wonderful watercolour illustrations. Mr. Beggar comes to a little town dreaming of a good meal, but its poor inhabitants turn him away. He sees a long line of light in the snow and finds the open door of the synagogue. The shamas doesn't even speak to him. In a sudden inspiration he takes the bone buttons from his coat and asks the shamas for one more button for bone-button borscht.

Soon the whole town is involved in creating the best borscht and the greatest feast ever! The people believe it is a miracle and one family after another takes in Mr. Beggar and his magic buttons. When he finally moves on, he leaves the townspeople his buttons. Over the years the buttons are lost, but they learn how to make good borscht even without them . . . .

The illustrations in this tale of sharing celebrate the creation of the borscht, and the homely but appealing townspeople. Dusan Petricic's illustrations use overhead perspectives and changing colours to add to the delight of this fresh version of an old story. A great book for reading aloud, or for classes interested in comparing different versions of classic tales.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364