Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

The Blessing Cup is the prequel to The Keeping Quilt which told the story of Polacco's great-grandmother coming to America as a child. In The Blessing Cup Patricia Polacco tells the story of her Great-Grandmother Anna's life in Russia before she emigrated to America.

The night before Shabbat and after Anna and her family experienced harassment at the hands of the csar's men, her mother takes out a beautiful tea set. Anna asks her mother to tell the story of the wonderful story of the tea set.

Anna's mother and father lived in Roynovka, Russia (near present day Belarus). The tea set came from her Aunt Rebecca in Minsk who sent it to her mother with a special note about the blessing it would bring her family.

Despite the poverty of Anna's family, life in Roynovka was good. But one night the temple is burned down and Anna's family learns that the czar has ordered all Jews to leave Russia. Terrified and shocked, Anna, her parents and her baby sister, Magda,  must pack up only what they can carry or take with them in a cart. They take their menorah, the shofar, their holy books and of course the exquisite tea set. They face a long journey through Russia and possibly to America. How will they manage to survive such a journey and travel so far?

The book's beautiful illustrations were created by acclaimed author-illustrator,  Patricia Polacco, using 2 and 6B pencils and acetone markers. The free-hand sketch-like quality of Polacco's illustrations conveys the hustle and bustle of village life, the comraderie of the Jewish people, the warmth of family life, the physical hardship of their journey out of Russia, the joy when they are helped by a Russian man and the love for each generation as the cup is passed on through the generations. The expressive faces and the sense of motion conveyed in each of these beautiful drawings enhance the story of Polacco's ancestors.

The heartwarming story of hardship overcome and devotion to family and God make The Blessing Cup one of Polacco's best books. It's a story many families will be able to relate to.

Book Details:
The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco
Toronto: A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 2013

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