Alte Zachen/Old Things

Cicada. Sept. 2022. 72p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781800660229.
Gr 6 Up–Rosa, known to her grandson Benji as Bubbe, and the boy make their rounds throughout New York City to pick up groceries for dinner, from gefilte fish and brisket to challah and babka. As they both traverse the city by foot, subway, and ride app, there are references to kosher food, the Holocaust, and past gender norms. New York is depicted with a diverse population. Rosa’s home and the city at large are colored in tans, grays, and dreary blues. Every so often she will experience a vision from her memory rendered in brighter colors, regardless of whether the experience was good or bad. A gentle subplot revolves around a guy who never stopped carrying a torch for Rosa. Her squabbles with strangers or Benji range from humorous to inappropriate, but people tend to extend grace and not take her remarks personally. This is a book with a lot to say about how we hold on to the past, express gratitude for the present, and support people with experiences beyond our own. Some of its most important observations take place in wordless moments for readers to notice and interpret on their own. Back matter includes a glossary of Yiddish terms used in the book.
VERDICT Taking a walk with Rosa and Benji just might change how readers see the world and everyone’s place in it. Highly recommended for graphic novel collections.

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