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.
About the Author
BRENDA A. FERBER received the Sydney Taylor Manuscript
Award for Julia's Kitchen. She lives in Deerfield, Illinois.
Reading Group Guide
1. Grief, which can be defined as great sadness or deep sorrow, is very difficult to overcome. After reading the first chapters, what do you think is the impact of the fire on
Cara and her father?
2. In her grief, Cara questions the role of God in her life. Using some of Cara's own questions (such as the ones on p. 97), discuss her feelings toward God in the aftermath of the fire, how she continues to question God, and how she finally resolves the role of religion in her life.
3. Cara cannot seem to alleviate her grief. As a result, her friendship with Marlee becomes strained. Is there anything that the girls could have done earlier to avoid the temporary break in their friendship?
4. Why does Cara think she needs to keep the Julia's Kitchen project hidden from her dad?
1. The tragic death of a parent or sibling is very hard to accept. In some ways it is impossible to adjust to. Introduce the adage, "No one loves you like your mother". Have students record their own responses to that line. Using a graphic organizer for showing comparisons, have students find and list evidence of Cara's feelings in the text. Then have them compare their own reactions with those of Cara's. Another discussion of
students emotions and reactions should follow the comparison.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.