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The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips by Helaine Becker

This is the playful account of how the real-life Joseph Malin, a poor Jewish immigrant, invented fish and chips, the iconic British fish and chips dish.

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Joseph Malin loves his grandmother’s fried fish, which she makes according to an old family recipe. It’s so good, he thinks he might be able to make some money from it; money that his immigrant Jewish family desperately needs. He takes it into the marketplace of 19th Century London’s East End and calls out to passers-by: ‘Fresh from the ships, Hot n’ tasty fried fish’. Before long, people are coming from far and wide to try the delicious snack.

But his success inspires a rival. Annette, the greengrocer across the street, sees an opportunity to hawk her own family favourite: Belgian-style fried potatoes. “Piping hot chips!”/So crisp, so delish”, she calls. And they’re a hit too.

The competition between Joseph and Annette heats up as they try to outsell each other at the market. And then one day… crash! The two collide. Chips slip. Fish fly. It’s a disaster. Or perhaps not…

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips by Helaine Becker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful story with adorable illustrations!

I would like to thank Pen & Sword for providing me with an advance readers copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I’d recommend this to children of wide age ranges as the illustrations are enticing and verbiage is inviting. It also has appeal for multi-cultural and historical interest as well.

It features an appropriate, digestible length of book with simple enough and easy to understand sentence structure and words for readers from about 7 years of age on up to read independently, likely the ability to begin reading starting at 6 with some assistance. Listeners of any age who would be drawn to the pictures is also complete with a story that would be interesting to anyone of any age.

This was a good family read and we enjoyed the recipe contained in the book, making it for Fish Friday, which was super delicious and fun to make. This book also brought me back to my childhood, loving the treat of fish and chips meal. The illustrations reminded me of my favorite childhood reads including the amusing illustrations of historical scenes in Where’s Waldo and Journey Cake, Ho!

The Story
I was completely unaware of the origin of fish and chips so this was a great way to learn a bit about food history.

Illustrations
This picture story was really brought to life with perfectly detailed illustrations which were precious and realistic. Had enough adventurous tone to be an attractive in a sketch-like, colorful style to emphasize the time period, setting, and character expression.

The Writing
With lively narration, the kids had a fun time taking turns reading it, drawing out the expressions in the dialogue which were well placed among the main historical aspect of the storyline.

What the Kids Said
“Made me hungry for fish and chips!”
“A good book!”

I’d love to know more books like this.

View all my reviews

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