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The Carp in the Bathtub (1972)

de Barbara Cohen

Outros autores: Joan Halpern (Ilustrador)

Séries: Leah & Harry Katz (1)

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Two children try to rescue the carp their mother plans to make into gefilte fish for the Seder.
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Looking back from the distance of many years, Leah narrates this story of her girlhood in Flatbush, Queens, when she and her brother Harry would surreptitiously refuse to eat any gefilte fish at Rosh Hashanah and Passover. Known for cooking the best gefilte fish in all of New York City, Leah and Harry's mother would always buy a live fish, a week before the holiday, in order to have the freshest ingredients when cooking. One Passover, the siblings become particularly attached to the carp in their bathtub, and try to save him. Foiled in their attempt by their father, who is kind but firm in the matter of returning the carp, Leah and Harry are heartbroken, until they are finally given a tiny kitten, as their very first pet...

First published in 1972, The Carp in the Bathtub was the first of two stories about Leah and Harry Katz, followed by First Fast in 1987. That second story, which is set at Yom Kippur, was my introduction to these characters, and so moving and thought-provoking did I find it, that I determined to read this Passover tale, when the holiday next came around. Although less of a story about Passover itself, it was nevertheless an immensely engaging tale of family, and of the human-animal connection. So many little details stood out to me, from the way in which Papa changes his demeanor, when he sees the children waiting for him at the subway stop - he comes up the stairs stooped over with exhaustion, but immediately straightens himself up upon seeing Leah and Harry, so that they do not suspect how tired and beaten down he is - to the realistic way in which the story ends. I rather suspect that if this book were being written today, the parents would humor Leah and Harry, or they would find some way to rescue the carp. Here however, the realities of the day - this is a hard-working immigrant family in the early 20th century, with little money to spare, and a traditional view of certain animals being there to eat - drive the story. Leah's recollection, at the end of the book, that she and Harry never could bring themselves to eat gefilte fish, for the rest of their lives, provides a poignant conclusion to the tale, highlighting how formative of an experience it was, attempting to rescue that carp in the bathtub.

I found this one quite moving, and I appreciated the way in which it avoided moral judgment, or any effort to demonize Leah and Harry's parents. In addition to providing an engaging work of family fiction, it could be used with children to explore the realities of having loved ones either who do or do not eat animals. Although not divided into chapters, I would say it is on the beginning chapter-book level, suitable for readers ages seven to nine, and I would recommend it to children interested in family stories, or in historical fiction. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Mar 29, 2021 |
NO OF PAGES: 48 SUB CAT I: Children's Resources SUB CAT II: Feasts/Festivals SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: Just before Passover, Leah and Harry befriend a carp and attempt to rescue it from the terrible fate at the hands of their mother, who is about to turn it into her famous and delicious gefilte fish.NOTES: SUBTITLE:
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
A Passover story for children
  Folkshul | Jan 15, 2011 |
I heard of this title years before. What a remarkable story of a brother and sister's determination to save a family pet and a father's wisdom in handling his kids misbehavior.
A beginning reader size book that would make an excellent read aloud for elementary school children in recignition of Passover, Rosh Hashanah or Pesach.
  MarthaL | Feb 25, 2010 |
A young girl learns some very grownup lessons when she tries to save the fish her mother bought to make into gefilte fish for the holidays. I found it hard to read the end out loud. ( )
  raizel | May 6, 2009 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Barbara Cohenautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Halpern, JoanIlustradorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado

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When I was a little girl, I lived in an apartment house in New York City with Mama and Papa and my little brother Harry.
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