ABOUT THE B'NAI BAGELS by E.L. Konigsburg
Kirkus Star

ABOUT THE B'NAI BAGELS

illustrated by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Jewish shmewish, everybody knows, so who cares? The early chapters are as inflected as The Goldbergs, and Bessie Setzer scorning to add raisins to her stuffed cabbage ("No one tells Heinz how to make ketchup. . .") is the salt of matzo-ball motherhood; but though one of Mark's worries is his impending Bar Mitzvah, being Jewish is not an issue until, on p. 109, a resentful boy blurts out "Watch it, Jew Boy"--and the reader, caught unawares, is shocked. Not so Mark: teammate Botts' latent anti-Semitism, surfacing away from the ballfield, is only another problem of the overlap between "what happens to me as a guy and what happens to me as a guy whose mother manages the team." And that is the crux of the book, although Bessie's triumphant disclosure that she's to manage the B'nai B'rith Little Leaguers, her glee in blackmailing Mark's college brother into coaching and her unorthodox techniques of handling the (self-dubbed) Bagels command major attention in the first half. That, and her funny fumbles with words. But the story is Mark's from the middle and he acquits himself well: he doesn't tell on Botts for selling looks at the Playgirl centerfold or for name-calling (but the implication is not ignored); foregoes a chance to get back at the obnoxious boy who's become his best friend's best friend; and, swallowing his dismay at learning he was a leftover in the first Little League auction and his discomfiture at being under the thumb of mother and brother, pulls himself up as a player. His summation, already implicit, needn't have been stated, and some of the situation comedy seems excessive but the book, and Bessie, are as wise as they are warm. A further attraction is the fine supporting cast, notably that twelve-year-old charmer, Fortune Cookie Rivera.
Pub Date: March 21st, 1969
ISBN: 1416957987
Page count: 211pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1969




MORE BY E.L. KONIGSBURG

ChildrenTHE MYSTERIOUS EDGE OF THE HEROIC WORLD by E.L. Konigsburg
by E.L. Konigsburg
ChildrenTHE OUTCASTS OF 19 SCHUYLER PLACE by E.L. Konigsburg
by E.L. Konigsburg