Bitter and Sweet: A Review

When Hannah’s family has to move, her grandmother tells her how she felt leaving the old country — it was both bitter and sweet. As Hannah leaves her friends behind and tries to get used to a new house, she only feels bitterness. Was her grandmother wrong about the sweetness?

Hannah starts to feel better about the move when she sees her new house in the soft light of the Shabbat candles. When a new friend reaches out with a special gift, Hannah realizes that sweetness can come from unexpected places and that she can even create some herself.

Featuring art by acclaimed illustrator Kyrsten Brooker, this story subtly conveys a universal message — while life can be full of challenging moments, sweeter ones can be found and created. An author’s note is included on the concept of bitter and sweet in Jewish culture.

This beautifully illustrated book helps children with transition events in their lives. Moving is a common transition event for many children. Coupled with a deep cultural family aspect, Bitter and Sweet offers readers, children and adults alike, a way to lovingly let go of a past place so that they may better embrace their present place. Making new friends and experiencing new sights and sounds, well beyond their current experience, enables children to see that accepting the “new” is not a rejection of the “old.”

Bitter and Sweet is a great book for any home or classroom. As an educator who specializes in reading and literacy with diverse student populations, I highly recommend this book.

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