Reviews for Blessing Cup

Booklist Reviews 2013 October #1
This prequel to The Keeping Quilt (1988) recounts the story of great-grandmother Anna's childhood exodus from czarist Russia to America. The family brings along a precious tea set ("Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God"), hoping it will bring them good luck. When Papa falls ill from cold and exhaustion, a kindly doctor takes them in, nursing Papa back to health and eventually buying the whole family passage to America. In gratitude, they give him the tea set, keeping only one "blessing cup" for themselves. Polacco is a master storyteller, and this heartwarming tale of hardship and the importance of family does not disappoint. The charcoal illustrations are accented with splashes of vibrant color that allow readers to follow the tea set and Anna's babushka along the journey. An afterword explains how the real cup broke in half during the 1989 California earthquake, enabling Polacco to pass along a part of this heirloom to both of her children. This tale stands alone, but fans will cherish this addition to the Polacco canon. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
In this sort-of prequel to The Keeping Quilt, Polacco's great-grandmother Anna and her family are forced to leave Russia during the pogroms. They take with them a treasured "magic" tea set: "Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God." The understated telling is beautifully supported and extended in art rendered in soft gray pencil that harkens back to Polacco's early work.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #5
The Keeping Quilt (1988) began with Polacco's great-grandmother Anna's arrival in America. In this sort-of prequel, Anna and her family are forced to leave Russia during the pogroms. Though the czar's soldiers are a dark threat from the first page, the family treasures its cozy home, community, rituals and, especially, a "magic" tea set: "Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God. They will never know a day of hunger. . .They will know love and joy. . .and they will never be poor!" And so it will be, as long as love is riches enough. Ordered to leave their village, they take little besides a few books and the precious tea set. When Papa falls ill after grueling months on the road, a widowed doctor takes the family in. "Uncle Genya" cares for Papa; Mama cooks. Then, forbidden to house Jews, Uncle Genya sells his most beautiful rug to pay their passage to America, and they leave him the tea set -- save one cup, whose later history concludes the tale. The understated telling is beautifully supported and extended in art that harks back to Polacco's early books. The illustrations are rendered in soft gray pencil. Backgrounds are roughly yet adroitly sketched, while faces and body language are particularly expressive, and panoramic views of the shtetl are lively with detail. A few strategic features draw the eye with brilliant red and blue: small accents such as the tea set and Anna's headscarf; once, a double-page spread of the village temple in flames. This is family history at its dramatic and iconic best, a well-shaped story and a fine addition to Polacco's oeuvre. joanna rudge long Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #1
Polacco has a gift for turning her own family stories into picture books that can touch the hearts of all. The Keeping Quilt is now 25 years old. In this brand-new companion, Polacco turns to her great-grandmother Anna's story of how she came to America. The pictures, vibrant and brilliantly suggestive of movement, are mostly black-and-white, shaded with her signature use of color to highlight certain details. Devotees of The Keeping Quilt will recognize Anna's babushka, which became the border of the quilt, on the young Anna when the czar's soldiers come to their Russian town to burn the temple and expel all the Jews. The family packs up its most precious possessions, including her papa's sewing machine and the beautiful china teapot and cups that were a wedding present. Even as they travel, they continue the ritual of drinking from the cups for God's blessing, breaking bread so they will never know hunger and using salt so that their lives will have flavor. When Anna's papa's health breaks down from hauling the cart with all their possessions, a widowed doctor takes the family in and cares for them until, once again, they are forced to leave. In gratitude for the doctor's care and for his supplying them with passage to America, they leave him the tea set, save for one cup. Polacco closes with the journey of that particular cup to the present day. History, religious persecution, immigration, and the skeins of faith and love that connect a family are all knit together in this powerful, accessible and deeply affecting story. (Picture book. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #1

In this prequel to The Keeping Quilt, readers learn how Polacco's great-grandmother Anna and her parents were forced from their shtetl in Czarist Russia and made their way to America. Among the few treasures the family took with them was a vibrantly painted tea set, a kind of familial talisman ("This tea set is magic. Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God," says Anna's mother, explaining its lore), which also served as a reminder that they would always be rich in what matters: resilience and love. Only one cup from the tea set made it to their new home, but it played a central role in the family's traditions and milestones through the generations. Polacco opens her heart to readers as few authors can, inviting them to become intimates in her family's low and high points. As in The Keeping Quilt, she renders her unabashedly sentimental scenes of immigrant life in exuberant, fluid gray pencil, reserving the splashes and spots of color primarily for the tea set and--in a link to the earlier book--the babushka that will become part of the quilt. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 August

Gr 1-4--This book is a prequel to The Keeping Quilt (S & S, 1988), but readers do not need to have read the first book to enjoy it. The entrancing charcoal illustrations soften the bittersweet story and will delight young readers as they follow the brightly colored "Blessing Cup" through pages of black and white. Polacco tells an autobiographical story, tracing the origins of a special teacup from the hands of her great-grandmother in Russia to the possession of her own children today. In telling the story of the cup, the author touches on the plight of Jewish people in Russia during the early 1900s, bringing to light the terror of the pogroms as seen through the eyes of Polacco's great-grandmother as a girl. The importance of family is the underlying message of the book; it will be best delivered by an adult who can explain some of the history that drives the action. Polacco's touching yet restrained storytelling, paired with her evocative illustrations, makes The Blessing Cup an excellent addition to any collection.--Nora Clancy, Teachers College Community School, New York City

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