Bitter and Sweet
Author- Sandra V Feder
Illustrator- Kyrsten Brooker
Page Count: 32
Theme- change, adjustment
Change is bittersweet, but sometimes it is so bitter that one cannot perceive the sweetness hiding inside. That is what the protagonist Hannah goes through when she moves houses because of her father’s transfer. “Almost every change has some hard parts and some nice parts. Definitely some bitter but even more sweet.” says her grandma. But Hannah finds the task impossible. She misses her old apartment’s wide porch, flat street, and friendly neighborhood.
Feder braids wisdom of Jewish custom into this simple story, accentuating the phrase—bitter and sweet—the duality in everyday Judaism and Jewish life in the Author’s note. The muted light of Shabbat candles, a visit from a new friend, and a special gift make Hannah feel better. However, the pursuit of sweetness is far from over.
It’s in the last pages Feder knots it together in the last few lines, giving the narrative a delicate poetic glaze and topping it up with a terrific message. When her grandmother asks if she’s found “the sweet,” Hannah says, “You can’t just find it. You have to add it yourself.”
The message touches you as an adult, perhaps more, as you perceive it much better. The sweetness in life is to be created, not always to be found.
Brooker’s illustrations are just the right ingredients for the book—simple yet stunning!