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Julia's Kitchen
     

Julia's Kitchen

4.8 5
by Brenda A. Ferber
 

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Cara Segal is a born worrier. She figures her worrying works like a whisper in God's ear – if Cara's concerned about car crashes, kidnappings, or murders, she lets God know, and he always spares her. But Cara never thought to worry about a fire. And one night while she's sleeping at a friend's house, her house catches fire, and her mother and younger sister

Overview

Cara Segal is a born worrier. She figures her worrying works like a whisper in God's ear – if Cara's concerned about car crashes, kidnappings, or murders, she lets God know, and he always spares her. But Cara never thought to worry about a fire. And one night while she's sleeping at a friend's house, her house catches fire, and her mother and younger sister are both killed.
Throughout shiva, the initial Jewish mourning period, Cara can't help wondering about God's role in the tragedy. And what is her father's role in her life now? He walks around like a ghost and refuses to talk about the fire. Cara longs for her family and her home, where sweet smells filled the house as Cara's mom filled orders for her catering business, Julia's Kitchen. Then one day a call comes in for a cookie order, and Cara gets a wild idea. Maybe by bringing back Julia's Kitchen, she can find a way to reconnect with everything she's lost.

Complete with a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms and a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, this debut novel is a joyous tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Julia's Kitchen is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The emotions are real, the protagonist empathetic, and the resolution believable. Poignant.” —Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Deftly told.” —Chicago Tribune

“Touching and authentic . . .major themes about grief and healing are beautifully addressed in what turns out to be a powerful debut novel.” —Booklist

“The novel's brevity and honesty will appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish girls.” —School Library Journal

“Readers will appreciate the book's poignant and sympathetic depiction of bereavement and its hopeful message of a legacy that can transcend separation.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Real, raw emotion emanates from this affecting debut novel. [A] heartrending tale of loss and healing.” —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature
Ferber's debut novel is a simple narrative about a heart wrenching loss and the journey of recovery. After eleven-year-old Cara Seigel's mother and younger sister are killed in a tragic house fire, Cara struggles with putting the pieces of her life back together. While her father grows increasingly distant and he avoids discussing their loss, she questions God and her Jewish faith for taking her loved ones from her. After deep personal reflection, Cara realizes she cannot live without her religion and she decides to keep her mother's memory alive by doing what she loved to do, bake. The craft of cooking becomes therapeutic as she remembers her mother, finds closure, and opens a new chapter in her life. Ferber's active writing style makes the characters vibrant and alive, forcing readers into Cara's shoes. Cara's religious journey is not unlike Elli Weisel's in Night. Nevertheless, due to the contemporary setting and young narrator, Ferber's fictional tale is one that young readers can better digest. There is a glossary defining many of the Jewish religious terms used, as well as Julia's chocolate chip cookie recipe. 2006, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 9 to 12.
—Elizabeth Sulock
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-The night her mother and sister die in a house fire, 11-year-old Cara is sleeping over at her friend Marlee's. As she gradually tries to adjust to life without them, she struggles with a sense of disbelief at her loss, her anger at her father for his reluctance to discuss the details of the fire and for hiding himself in his work, and her feelings of isolation from her classmates. She questions God's lack of power to keep her family safe, finally realizing that she cannot live without her Jewish faith. Cara takes strength from her beloved Bubbe and Zayde-her mother's parents-and from creating a family scrapbook. But healing and self-assurance finally come with her decision to continue her mother's home-based baking business-Julia's Kitchen. Ferber's characterization of suburban Cara is accurate and believable, although other characters are not as fully developed. A short glossary of Hebrew terminology and a recipe for chocolate chip cookies are appended. The novel's brevity and honesty will appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish girls.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Every time 11-year-old Cara worries about something, it turns out fine. She feels like God's little helper, until a faith-shattering tragedy occurs. Cara's house catches fire; her dad gets out, but her mom and younger sister Janie don't. Overcome with guilt and sorrow because she had stayed overnight at a friend's house, and with her grieving dad unable to comfort her, Cara clings to family memories but feels that God has abandoned her-or is it the other way around? Relatives, friends and the school social worker try to help, but it's the discovery of her mom's cookie recipes from her catering business ("Julia's Kitchen") that enables Cara to reincarnate the spirit of her mother and assuage her heartache. When she impulsively accepts a phone order, pretending to be Julia, she finds that baking brings her comfort and acceptance of the message that, "life is a journey, not a destination." More spiritual than religious in tone, some details seem convenient but the emotions are real, the protagonist empathetic and the resolution believable. Family bonds, Jewish traditions and overcoming grief to reconnect with life are deftly braided in this poignant story, just like the challah on Friday nights. (Hebrew/Yiddish glossary, recipe) (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374399320
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/21/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.63(h) x 0.71(d)
Lexile:
620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

BRENDA A. FERBER received the Sydney Taylor Manuscript
Award for Julia's Kitchen. She lives in Deerfield, Illinois.

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Julia's Kitchen 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FABULOUS!! A must read by children and adults. This is worth reading again and again. A great book about the human spirit, resilience, doubt and loss. I loved the spiritual wisdom of this young girl!
tHeBo0kWOrM More than 1 year ago
This book makes you realize that you have a great life. I read this book when I was in 4th grade, and I really liked it, it was sad but it had alot of feeling in this book. In this book the main characher faces many problems like the death of her little sister and mother, but when her father is the only one alive in the fire. Julia has some questions. In a slight depression, she starts to understand and feel that living only with her dad isn't half as bad as she thought. I reccomend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Julias Kitchen was a sad but great book! I really enjoy Brenda A Ferber and i want her to write a second one. I loved it.