My Yiddish Vacation

Overview

Whenever Ruth and Sammy visit their grandparents, they get to brush up on their Yiddish. This Jewish language, a blend of German and Hebrew, is full of words that are fun to say: words like shvitz (sweat), feh! (“It stinks!”), and schmaltz (fat). Ruth and Sammy look forward to spending time with relatives. As Ruth would say, until they arrive at their grandparent’s house, they are on shpilkes (pins and needles)!

Actress Ione Skye drew upon her childhood experiences in this story...

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Overview

Whenever Ruth and Sammy visit their grandparents, they get to brush up on their Yiddish. This Jewish language, a blend of German and Hebrew, is full of words that are fun to say: words like shvitz (sweat), feh! (“It stinks!”), and schmaltz (fat). Ruth and Sammy look forward to spending time with relatives. As Ruth would say, until they arrive at their grandparent’s house, they are on shpilkes (pins and needles)!

Actress Ione Skye drew upon her childhood experiences in this story of family ties, cultural exploration, and adventures under the sunshine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/24/2014
When Ruth and her older brother, Sammy, spend the weekend with their beloved Jewish grandparents in a Florida retirement community, it’s a sociolinguistic holiday, as well: everyone there peppers their conversation with Yiddish, the language in which “the words are fun to say and sound like what they mean.” Skye, the actress who played the object of affection in Say Anything, makes her children’s book debut with a loving, lighthearted salute to a truly great and, sadly, vanishing generation (for most readers, the people represented in the book would be great-great grandparents). While Skye curiously omits mensch (which may make some adults plotz), readers will come away knowing 18 other evocative Yiddish words, including shpilkes (the impatient excitement before vacation begins), tchotchkes (the knickknacks that fill Grandma’s home), and meshuggener (the nutty persona kids assume at the clubhouse pool). Along the way, there are also tips of the hat to enormous swimsuits, flocked wallpaper, and plastic slipcovered furniture, all affectionately seconded by Menchin’s (Harry Goes to Dog School) bright, cartooned vignettes. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee. Pippin Properties. (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for My Yiddish Vacation:

"Ruth and Sammy's vacation to their grandparents' retirement community presents a nostalgic look at 1970s Jewish Florida." - Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Wiggle (illustrated by Scott Menchin):

* “Every candy-colored page features the funny, frenetic dog involved in some furious activity, and the sense of motion and movement is palpable each time. The text is occasionally labored: ‘Wiggle slowly when with polar bears. They’re very wiggle shy.’ But the artwork picks up the slack so well that kids won’t know what to do first: wiggle or giggle.” —Booklist, starred review

Praise for Bounce (illustrated by Scott Menchin):

“Rhymes weave in and out of the pen-and-ink and digitally colored spreads. The cartoon art is eye-catching and as playful as the text.” —School Library Journal

 

"Skye, the actress who played the object of affection in Say Anything, makes her children's book debut with a loving, lighthearted salute to a truly great and, sadly, vanished generation. -Publishers Weekly

 

From the Publisher

Praise for My Yiddish Vacation:

"Ruth and Sammy's vacation to their grandparents' retirement community presents a nostalgic look at 1970s Jewish Florida." - Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Wiggle (illustrated by Scott Menchin):

* “Every candy-colored page features the funny, frenetic dog involved in some furious activity, and the sense of motion and movement is palpable each time. The text is occasionally labored: ‘Wiggle slowly when with polar bears. They’re very wiggle shy.’ But the artwork picks up the slack so well that kids won’t know what to do first: wiggle or giggle.” —Booklist, starred review

Praise for Bounce (illustrated by Scott Menchin):

“Rhymes weave in and out of the pen-and-ink and digitally colored spreads. The cartoon art is eye-catching and as playful as the text.” —School Library Journal

School Library Journal
07/01/2014
PreS-Gr 2—Seven-year-old Ruth and her older brother, Sammy, fly from New York to Florida to visit their stereotypical Jewish grandparents. They swim in the pool, play shuffleboard, meet friends for lunch, and go line dancing. The narrative is peppered with words and phrases like "oy vay!," "meshuggeners," "shmatte," and "alter kockers." The pen-and-ink cartoon drawings, set against the crisp white backgrounds, humorously depict the characters and the setting and help to illustrate the Yiddish terms. In the author's note, Skye explains how she grew to appreciate the language from her own "Yiddish vacations" with her grandparents. She also includes photographs of her and her brother with their grandparents in the 1970s. Skye's contemporaries, whose grandparents also retired to Florida, covered their couch in plastic, collected tacky tchotchkes, and had pink velvet wall paper, may enjoy sharing her nostalgia with their own children. However, the lack of a substantial story line is unlikely to attract a wider audience.—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-16
Ruth and Sammy's vacation to their grandparents' retirement community presents a nostalgic look at 1970s Jewish Florida, when Yiddish-rich English was the norm.On the plane by themselves, the siblings, 7 and 13 respectively, are excited to leave winter and ready to enjoy the warmth of Florida, where "shvitzing" (sweating) is enjoyed, Grandma jokes about how her "shmaltz" (fat) helps her float in the pool, and all the visiting grandkids act like "meshuggeners" as they splash and scream. The house is full of "tchotchkes," and Muffin, the pet dog, is called a "lobus" (wise guy) because he cannot decide if he wants to be inside or out. Sammy's ready to grab Grandma's hand for the fun. Oy gevalt! Actress Skye's fond memories of her childhood experiences in the Sunshine State will seem outdated to today's Internet-savvy generation. And while keeping the Old World language alive may be a worthy motive, this presentation is irksome in its conventional approach. Bland, black-outlined cartoon characterizations of stereotypical "alter kockers" (old guys) playing shuffleboard in their Bermuda shorts and frumpy, bespectacled "yentas" gossiping over lunch may appeal to the older portion of a multigenerational audience, but young readers are more likely to find them grotesque. Ruth's present-tense narration is undistinguished if upbeat, often laboriously explaining Yiddish words to readers rather than artfully folding them into her text.Cheery self-indulgence. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805095128
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 770,377
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ione Skye is an actor best known for her roles in Say Anything, River’s Edge, and the television show Arrested Development. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, musician Ben Lee, and their children. My Yiddish Vacation is her first book.

Scott Menchin spent many years as a designer and art director for magazines. He has illustrated award-winning picture books by Doreen Cronin and Alison McGhee, and has both written and illustrated his own books. He lives in New York with his family.

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