The Blessing Cup

by Patricia Polacco

Book, 2013



Call number

E 500 POL



New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2013.


A single china cup from a tea set left behind when Jews were forced to leave Russia helps hold a family together through generations of living in America, reminding them of the most important things in life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member brandib90
"The Blessing Cup" is a great book that depicts the life of Patricia's great-grandmother. This book talks about her journey from her home in Russia to America. Patricia Polacco does a wonderful job at illustrating her families possessions. SHe does a wonderful job of depicting the journey that her
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family had to make to end up here in the US. This book would be great for students to read to give them an idea of the importance of family possessions and traditions.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
This was another of the top notch Patricia Polacco books. It says it’s a companion book to The Keeping Quilt, and it is, but it can be thoroughly enjoyed as a standalone book. It’s one of the Polacco books that has brought me close to tears. It’s the story of her family history told via a tea
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set and one of its cups, as the Jewish family goes from Russia to the U.S. and through the U.S. I love how the Loma Prieta 1989 earthquake that affected the San Francisco Bay Area plays a pivotal role. Both Polacco and I experienced that quake firsthand. Way to put a positive spin on what others might consdier a loss caused by that quake!! Re the pictures: I loved these illustrations. I love the judicious use of colors, the very colorful miniature pictures on the end pages, the expressiveness shown in the depictions of the people, everything. Usually my favorite part of Polacco’s books is her stories but in this book, I equally loved the story and the paintings. Both are remarkably conveyed. As a lifelong atheist (AND more recent apatheist as well) at the beginning all the mentions of God were a tad annoying, but the family’s story and history grabbed me quickly and the presence of God and blessing and other religious mentions ended up being fine with me. I do wish I had such a rich and known family history and present as the author-illustrator does. Reading the book left me feeling both uplifted and melancholy, but mostly I was smiling. Recently, Polacco has come out with a book every spring and every autumn and I’m excited that another book is out at around the same time as this one, and I’m reading Gifts of the Heart asap. I’ll then be caught up with reading Polacco’s books. Two more are in the pipeline for future publication. I’m excited. I hope she comes out with new books for many more years. Posted as a subjective opinion and hopefully as useful information for other readers.
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LibraryThing member MichelleNappi
The main message of this book is to illustrate how one family holds onto hope during a very turbulent time in their lives.
I liked this book for many reasons. I enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly the doctor. Polacco gives the doctor truly admirable characteristics. For example, the
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doctor takes in the Russian/Jewish family because the father is very ill. He cares for him and allows the family to stay in his home, all the while being completely generous and compassionate to them, though they could give nothing in return. I think that these are courageous and powerful characteristics to give to a character. I love how selfless and sacrificial the man is and I loved reading about him.
I also enjoyed this book because of the message it sends about family. This book shows that as long as a family sticks together, supports each other, and loves one another, they can survive any perilous circumstance. For example, the family has to evacuate their home and travel to unknown lands. They have little money, little possessions, and their father was sick. However, with the help of the Blessing Cup, the family remains hopeful and supports one another in their new life. I love that Polacco did not make life easy for them, because that would not have been realistic. Rather, she discussed very difficult circumstances, but showed that if a family is hopeful and sticks together, they will pull through.
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LibraryThing member dms02
A really lovely companion to The Keeping Quilt (and just great all on its own as well). Polacco never fails to make me tear up. Like sitting down with an old family friend to listen to really personal and wonderful stories.
LibraryThing member AllieR93
This story is about family and tradition. A Jewish family is being exiled from Russia. They try to pack as little as possible, but they bring a tea set that they believe brings God's blessings. The family does these rituals as family traditions. They put salt on their food so life always has
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flavor. They sip from the cup so they have God's blessing and never feel poor. These traditions bring them closer as a family. The father tells his kids that they will never feel poor because they are rich with love. Their traditions and culture is what brings this rich feeling of love. A cup from the tea set is passed down through many generations. The cup symbolizes their rich culture and always brings thoughts of love and memories.
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LibraryThing member SuPendleton
This book by Patricia Polacco had me teary eyed. It is the story of a Jewish family forced to flee Russia in the 1900s. They can only take a few precious items with them. One of the items is a beautiful china tea set that the family drinks tea from at night during family meals. It reminds them to
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appreciate the blessings in their lives. As they are fleeing the country, the young girl's father becomes ill. A caring doctor lets the family stay with him and arranges their safe passage to America. The family leaves behind their tea set with the doctor as a of symbol of love, he has become part of their family, and takes only one cup to keep the tradition alive in America. The cup is lovingly passed down from generation to generation until it is broken in an earthquake- yet two pieces remained intact and the author can now give a shard to each of her daughters to remind them of the blessings in their lives. A simple but beautifully told story.
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LibraryThing member cduke3
I really enjoyed "The Blessing Cup," by Patricia Polacco. One thing that I really liked was the illustrations. The drawings are done in black and white, with one or two items on the page highlighted in color. The illustrations are also done with some kind of carbon medium. The pictures look like
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they could have been drawn with a pencil or charcoal. I never have seen that before, so I really enjoyed it. Usually, the item that was in color was the tea set where the blessing cup came from. This allowed the illustrations to really complement the text. Speaking of text, that was written very well. What I enjoyed the most was the use of Jewish and Russian terms. By integrating the language of the cultures represented, the story became more believable. Some examples of the vocabulary includes, menorah, czar, shofar, and tallis. I also really enjoyed the message of the book. The main idea of this book is that no matter what adversity someone faces, family and love is a blessing to get you through it.
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LibraryThing member sbutler9
This picture book tells the story of the prequel to the Holocaust, when the Jews were forced out of Europe. I think this book tells the story in a way suitable for young children. This book can be used to talk about history, as well as addressing courage, family, different ethnicities, etc. 3rd-4th.
LibraryThing member memaldonado
The Blessing Cup is about how Ana and her family arrived to The United States of America. Ana lived in Russia with her family, and her mother received a beautiful Chinese tea set from her aunt. They lived happily in their village, but one night Ana heard some noise. It was the soldiers outside that
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ordered all of the Jews to leave the town. Ana’s family packed all of their items and began to travel. They drank water from the tea set and continued travelling. Soon Ana’s father got sick, and a doctor in a town helped them. The Doctor bought them tickets to America, and Ana’s mother brewed some tea in the tea set for everyone. Ana’s mother gave the tea set to the Doctor, and gave him blessings. Once Ana’s family arrived to The United States, they drank from that one tea cup that was left, and remembered the Doctor. The cup was passed down from Ana to her daughter, and it was passed down to Patricia Polacco in 1962. The cup is the symbol of blessings for this family, and it is the source of history for the family. I enjoyed the book a lot because it is a true story, and it is amazing how the tea cup survived many generations. I am beginning to become more interested about the Jewish culture because the books that I have read represents Jewish people as brave and strong. As an activity for kids I would want kids to design their own cups, and I would want to introduce more books about the Jewish community.
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LibraryThing member CasieBelaire
This is another one of Polacco's book where she tell the story of her family history. Polacco tells the story of her great grandmother's like before she came to America and the beloved family tea set that has been passed down from generation to generation. Anna, Polacco's great-grandmother, her
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mother, father, and baby sister lived in Russia. Anna's mother would always tell her the story of how the china tea set became a part of their family. It was right after Anna's mother and father were married they had a huge wooden crate delivered and Anna's mother and the whole village gathered around to see what it was. When Anna's mother opened it, it was the beautiful, colorful china tea set she received as a wedding gift from her aunt Rebecca. There was a not with the tea set saying that it was magic and anyone who drank from it would have blessings from God. Anna's mother and father would always tell them that they were rich because they had each other. That the love they had within their family brought more riches than the kings. During these times in Russia the czar wanted all the people who were Jewish to leave Russia. Anna's family packed their belongings, what little they could carry and gave away the rest. They brought along with them their beloved tea set. They were headed on a long journey to go stay with Anna's father's cousin in America. During this journey the family continued to drink from the tea set. Anna's father would pull the cart with the family and their belongings. This eventually led him to becoming ill and when they approached a new town they were taken in by a doctor who cared for her father. Anna and her family were able to stay with the doctor while he continued to take care of her father, as long as her mother would make her delicious meals. The girls grew bigger and closer with the doctor, eventually calling him uncle. After Anna's father recovered several moths later "uncle Genya" the doctor surprised them with train tickets and proper documentation to come to America. He even drove them to the train station himself. They didn't have money to pay the doctor for being so gracious to them so Anna's mother gave the doctor the tea set and wished him blessings. Anna's mother kept one tea cup that they would drink from every night so that their blessings continued. Polacco's grandmother was given the cup shortly after her great-grandmother Anna passed away. Then her grandmother gave it to Polacco's mother who eventually gave it to Polacco on her wedding day. Patricia Polacco kept the blessing cup in her china cabinet. One day, when living in San Francisco Bay area an earthquake struck and the cup fell breaking into exactly two pieces. The history behind Polacco's life really shows in all of most of her stories. She has a great story to tell about her life and her ancestors. She has found the perfect way to remember and honor her family by writing such beautiful stories such as this.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Patricia Polacco turns once again to her rich family history in The Blessing Cup, described on the cover as a companion to her earlier classic, The Keeping Quilt. While that earlier book described her Russian Jewish ancestors' experiences, as newly arrived immigrants in America, this story follows
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them while they are still living in Russia. Poor in wealth but rich in spirit and love, the family observe a ritual involving a gorgeous tea-set given to Anna's parents when the wed - a ritual that emphasizes the blessings of God and of family. When Jews are ordered to leave Russia, the family begin a long and difficult journey, one in which they are unexpectedly given aid by a kindly doctor. This blessing results in most of the tea set being left behind, as a gift of gratitude. But one cup - the Blessing Cup - stays with the family, to be passed down through the generations...

I can easily understand why The Blessing Cup was chosen as the 2014 winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers, given out by the Association of Jewish Libraries to the best children's book with a Jewish theme. Polacco's narrative here is engrossing, and immensely poignant. I'm always so impressed at the wealth and diversity of familial stories she presents in her prolific picture-book output, and how far back her knowledge of her ancestors goes. I really appreciated the interplay between story and artwork here, and the way in which Polacco often used a black and white scene to highlight the tea set, which was always depicted in vivid colors. The brief afterword, in which readers find out what eventually happened to the Blessing Cup, was also quite interesting! Recommended to Patricia Polacco fans, to anyone seeking family and immigrant stories, and to those looking for picture-books featuring Jewish characters and history.
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LibraryThing member AudreyLast
I really enjoyed this book. It was a true story about the author’s family having to leave Russia due to their religion and how they escaped the depth of the Czar. The storyline was great, because it went from when the author’s great great grandmother received the blessing cup. Then it showed
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you how the tea set was separated, then how the cup was passed to down to the latest generation. The history of this blessing cup was very grand and intriguing. Also, the illustrations were awesome. I believe they were down in pencil which is really cool. I don’t think a lot of illustrators make their pictures with pencil. There was not a lot of color, besides the tea set, which I found very fitting. This story was not exactly a happy and cheery book, it was depressing and sad, and the illustrations helped represent that. The big message in this book was family. If you have family then you will always be rich and happy. The cup is still in the author’s family today and is still be passed down from generation to generation.
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Original publication date



1442450479 / 9781442450479

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