A young boy contributes to shtetl life by thinking up new ways to do ordinary things and, in the process, helps a baker perfect his “top secret boiled buns.”
Many of Ziggy’s ideas have good intentions but aren’t always practical, like the “shulstilts” he creates for the very short rabbi. Pleased, the rabbi anticipates being taller than the bar mitzvah students and being able to read the Torah with ease—until he falls forward and off the homemade stilts, losing his black hat. Undeterred, Ziggy goes home to think up some new ideas and in the night, dreams up his biggest one yet. He has thought of a way to help the baker bake his special buns so the center isn’t always undercooked. Ziggy shows the baker how to create a dough circle instead of a bun to drop into the boiling water before baking. Perfectly puffed and beautifully browned, the new creation is akin to a bracelet and renamed a bagel for the German term. (A concluding note delves into the derivation of the word “bagel.”) Illustrations are detailed and charming, utilizing digital collage to limn scenes of a brick-walled bakery in an Eastern European village (though the French-looking mustachio on Moishe, the baker, seems a tad out of place).
The story’s dialogue-driven, child-oriented approach makes a nifty starting point for this “origin tale” of a much-loved breakfast food. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-6)