School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-5Grandpa, a Polish Jew who fled the ghettos and pogroms and came to America early in this century, now lives with his grown daughter and her family. His two grandchildren yearn for a more exciting relative, but the man is always davening (praying) and cannot be disturbed. When the youngsters come across an old photograph, Grandpa Sam tells about his past. Once proud and handsome, he gambled his way into major wealth until one Passover eve when his young daughter became sick. Betting everything on Gods mercy, Sam vowed to pray every morning and evening for the rest of his life. Miracle of miracles, she got better. An authors note explains unfamiliar words (afikoman, yarmulke, etc.). Executed on handmade antique paper, Mosers full-page, realistic drawings in warm sepia washes are beautifully done. The book is handsomely designed with crisp white borders surrounding the ecru paper, highlighting its ragged edges. Because the pictures are basically monochromatic, they lack the richness one usually associates with this artist. The two children are drawn a little older than their comments in the text would suggest. Moreover, the grandson looks different in all three of his portraits. Minor points, but still flaws. The frontispiece, a picture of a fringed tallis or prayer shawl, is particularly fine and provides an entre into this familys life. A quiet, thoughtful piece with art that reflects the somber tone of the text.Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA young brother and sister can't understand why their grandfather prays all the time, instead of telling them exciting stories about his past. When he finally explains his habits, they hear Grandpa Sam's riveting tale, of the poverty and discrimination that forced him to leave his family and Poland, of emigrating to the US to find a new life, of scarce jobs, and of his decision to gamble for a living. He bought a home and raised a family, doing well until the day his wife became ill. The fear of losing her prompted his last betwith God, to save his wife's lifeto trade in gambling for a life of prayer. Michelson's story is both personal and universal, highlighting the discovery of family histories and hidden lives in people who are so much a part of every day. Moser's skilled sepia illustrations add an intimate touch to this poignant tale. (Picture book. 7-10) .
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