I am deeply familiar with comfort food – hot piping soup, meat-sauce spaghetti deftly prepared by my mother (and now my husband), hot choco with marshallow. But borscht? This is a new one for me.
Ruthie’s grandmother is in the hospital. And while still weak, her wits remain as sharp as ever as evidenced in her quick retorts:
“We’re here,” Ruthie said.
“It’s about time,” Grandma said. “Give me a smooch.”
“How do you feel?” Dad asked.
“I have pneumonia, so how should I feel?” Grandma sounded hoarse. “Besides, a person could starve to death here.”
Ruthie was alarmed. “We’ll bring you something special.”
When Grandmother specifically requested for her homemade borscht with her secret ingredients, Ruthie knew she had to find a way to do this, never mind that Grandma fell asleep before revealing her top-secret recipe.
As Ruthie starts to make the soup from scratch (and her father conveniently takes a nap), Grandma’s neighbors slowly trickle in, asking about Grandma’s health and offering many (but conflicting) suggestions on how borscht must be done. One neighbor claimed to be the Empress of Borscht, while another proclaimed that she is the First Lady, while another stated with conviction that she is the Tsarina of Borscht. Beets, onions, and lemons; sugar, salt, and honey – how the soup eventually tasted and whether it indeed turn out to be borscht, I shall leave for you to discover.
I love how the girl’s concern and her deep affection are evident through her earnest attempt to make something special for her Grandma, regardless of whether she had the requisite skills for it or not. I also enjoyed Grandma’s spunk and her exacting tastes and the refreshing truth in the dialogue as well as the dynamism of the artwork. A heartwarming book best read aloud by a grandmother filled with sass and verve.
If you wish to know more about the author, click here to be taken to Leda Schubert’s website. It also contains detailed reviews of The Princess Of Borscht. To know more about the illustrator, click here to be taken to Bonnie Christensen’s website.
The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2011. Book borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
Reading Challenge Update: 22 of 25