Cohen, Paula

Big Dreams, Small Fish

(2) K-3 It's 1931 (per a wall calendar in an illustration), and Shirley's family is struggling to get customers to try their store's speciality: "The neighbors don't know from good gefilte fish," declares Mama. Shirley has "LOTS of big ideas" but is deemed too young to help...until she's left temporarily in charge and gambles successfully on the power of free samples. Initiative-taker Shirley is easy to root for, and the engaging narrative voice ("Shirley wasted no time. She straightened. She decorated. She modernized. She advertised") keeps the tale moving. Loose-lined illustrations (pencil sketches over-drawn and then colored digitally) incorporate collage details that include what are presumably family photos; the author's bio explains that Cohen's grandparents owned a grocery store in a diverse immigrant neighborhood like Shirley's. Back matter includes a glossary for the occasional Yiddish terms, and background on and a recipe for gefilte fish. Try it; you'll like it!


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