TOO YOUNG FOR YIDDISH by Richard Michelson


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 12


This is a sweet story about a language that, like the Jews themselves, manages to survive despite the effects of extermination and assimilation. A boy named Aaron implores his beloved Zayde to teach him Yiddish, but Zayde maintains that Aaron is too young. Zayde has moved into a small room in his son’s (Aaron’s father) house, where the only place for his collection of Yiddish-language books is his dresser, with the poetry books taking pride of place in the top drawer. These books represent all that is left of a once-vibrant Yiddish culture. When Zayde finally must move to a nursing home, he piles his books on the curb to be collected with the trash. Aaron, now a college student, rescues the books and begins to learn Yiddish. Eventually, Aaron becomes a father and begins teaching his own young son the language of his Zayde, saying, “you’re never too young for Yiddish.” Michelson (Ten Times Better, 2000, etc.) avoids taking the already didactic text over the top by leaving the history of Yiddish and its disappearance to a note, while an afterword tells of current efforts to save Yiddish books and thereby Yiddish culture. Waldman’s sensitive, if dull, illustrations capture the love between boy and elderly grandfather as well as the flavor of life in the shtetl. Too Young for Yiddish is printed so it opens on the left like a Yiddish book and the text employs many Yiddish words. There is a glossary of words used in the text. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-88106-118-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2002


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