Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book review: Yenta for Santa written by Judy Dulberg; illustratrations by Tricia Candemeres

Yenta for Santa by Judy Dulberg
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 30th 2013 by Center Rock Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)

It's Christmas time and the children of the house are headed for the naughty list. The elf in residence is worried about the children's mischievous behavior. He calls Santa and asks for reinforcement. Who will be able to join forces with the elf and restore order? Who has the determination and courage to face down this rowdy group of treat stealers? Who can Santa rely on with Christmas just weeks away? Santa knows! It's his old Jewish friend - Yenta for Santa!

One look at this cover and it's safe to assume that there will be an abundance of laughs from the story told inside. A Yenta For Santa is the first picture book I've read featuring...well, a 'Yenta.' A Yenta is a Yiddish gossip and writer Judy Dulberg deftly captures the heart of this 'busybody' grandmotherly type with her accent and sayings in rhyme. Illustrator Tricia Candemeres conveys the attitude and personality of Yenta and all the characters, from the helpless elf to the naughty kids in one house giving him a hard time. This is a book which begs for a boisterous voice brimming with personality to read this enchanting holiday tale out loud. Some books take on a new life when vocalized and A Yenta For Santa is one. Just read this:

A little old lady,gray hair in a bun,
said "Here I am, Sonny!
I know veel haff fun!"

Yes, veel will! See what I mean? When Santa drops Yenta down the house chimney we know she will shape up those naughty children right away. When they act up, she descends from her spot on the mantle and with her wood cane, swatting away rolled up socks thrown her way. When she takes away their presents, the kids know they better behave and get their names on the "NICE" list if they want any gifts at all. With determination and team work, this story shows anything can be done together.

I found the humor laugh out loud funny and thoroughly enjoyed the cultural humor. For kids not accustomed to a Yenta, this book will be the perfect primer. With the increase in popularity of the Elf on a Shelf, here comes this story which takes that newer idea and couples it with the reputation of a tough but loving grandmotherly type. A Yenta For Santa should become a holiday classic. I hope this gem will find it's place on the bookshelf next to other Christmas or Hanukkah classics ensuring the yearly tradition of its being read and cherished over-and-over again for generations of kids of all ages. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
Cute and humorous.

Book source:
I received a promotional copy from the publisher, Center Rock Publishing, in exchange for my honest review.

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