I mentioned somewhere previously that one of my goals at BookExpo this year was to buff up my children's library, and I specifically was on the lookout for diverse books. The Knish War on Rivington Street by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Jon Davis fit this bill.
It's the story of Rivington Street in lower Manhattan, which for generations served a large immigrant Jewish population. Benny is a young boy whose mother's knishs were so famous that she was able to open up a knish store on Rivington Street. Then one day Mrs. Tisch opens up a competing knish store across the street, and her knishes are fried and square. Who has ever heard of that?!?
The two knish sellers each begin lowering their prices in order to compete with one another, and when that isn't enough, each store resorts to crazier and crazier tactics to win customers. The war heats up, and it comes to a head when the Mayor shows up to sort out which knish is the best. Which one will he choose?
Based, albeit loosely, on a true story -- yes, my friends, there was actually a knish war on Rivington street! -- this lovely, lovely children's book is simply a delight to read. It has a great message -- that one person's success doesn't take away from that of another -- and it is told through an entertaining and easy-to-grasp story of two boys who are simply caught in the middle of their parents' feud. I am just madly in love with this book, and I hope that one day my son is as well.
The best part of this book (well, I don't know if it's the best, but it's certainly wonderful!) is that the last page of the book has recipes for both baked and friend knishes! My son isn't old enough to get the connection yet, but as soon as he is, we will make knishes after reading this book on a cold winter afternoon.