Geras, Adele. My Grandmother's Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales.Illus. Anita Lobel. NY: Knopf, 2003. $19.95. ISBN 0-375-82285-2.
"Bubbe meises" ("grandmothers' tales) is the Yiddish term for household stories, old wives' tales. Geras' retellings of stories she heard from her grandmother while they cooked and baked together are vivid and delightful, each framed by the child and the grandmother talking about something which leads into the storytelling. Geas also sets the stories up culturally by describing in loving detail what the two of them are cooking, and what her grandmother's kitchen looked like. Thus the 10 stories have about them the feel of stories being told orally—lively dialog (you can hear the Yiddish accents), just enough description to bring the scenes to life, and a little philosophy added as well. Most of the folk tales are fairly well known, such as "An Overcrowded House," in which a peasant complains to a rabbi that his house is too full of relatives; the rabbi advises him to bring the chickens, goats, etc. into the house too—after which the man is content to have just the people stay: the hut doesn't seem as crowded as before. Geras has s sure storyteller's touch, and of course master artist Anita Lobel's new illustrations for the substantial add detail and warmth, using soft colors and many curves to depict the usually humorous stories. This is a good buy for the money.