Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale

by Barbara Diamond Goldin

Other authorsJaime Zollars (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2010



Call number

E Gol

Call number

E Gol

Local notes

E Gol




Two Lions (2010), 32 pages


Young, blind Hershel finds that he has special gifts he can use to help his mother during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Includes author's notes about the holiday and its origins.


Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 11.5 x 8.6 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member acwheeler
This is a good tale about a boy named Hershel who is blind. As Purim approaches, blind Hershel wishes he could help his mother prepare for the holiday. He thinks if he could only see he could help his mother. One night he dreams of a vision of a winged angel descending a sparkling ladder. What the
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angel tells him and what Hershel sees in his dreams, leads to an exciting surprise for the whole village. I really enjoyed reading this story. It is a very sweet story with a wonderful ending!
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LibraryThing member ermilligan
This is a tale about a boy named Hershel who is blind. As Purim approaches, blind Hershel wishes he could help his mother prepare for the holiday. This was a great book with a sweet ending.
LibraryThing member juliabaird1
This is a great way to teach children about religion and other cultural traditions as well as a way to discuss disabilities.
LibraryThing member mmjones3
PreS-Gr 3–“Hershel was the only blind boy in his village. But his blindness did not keep him from going to school, or shaking pears from the neighbor's trees, or catching frogs in the river.” And, he is still able to help his mother by fetching, carrying, and cleaning. He wishes he could help
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her more, especially when she bakes three-corned cakes, called hamantashen to sell in the marketplace at Purim time. When an angel appears in his dream and encourages him to make what he sees when he closes his eyes, Hershel sneaks into the kitchen and forms his mother's cookie dough into beautiful shapes. His mother's hamantashen and his special cookies sell out quickly and Hershel earns the praise of the town baker. Edited significantly from the 1991 edition, the new text is more accessible to a younger audience and works better as a read-aloud. Rich, full-spread illustrations in collage and acrylic paint warmly depict the Eastern European shtetl setting with expression and dimension. Fans of the original will be thrilled to see this title back in print; the shortened text and new art will introduce this wonderful holiday story of courage and imagination to a new generation of readers
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Cakes and Miracles (1991 edition), illustrated by Erika Weihs.

As mentioned in my review of the 2010 reprint of this title, illustrated by Jaime Zollars, when a picture-book is repackaged in this way - new artwork, edited text - I tend to want to find the original as well, and compare and contrast
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the different editions. Even when there's no textual difference (as with Jane Yolen's The Seeing Stick, for example), I still enjoy comparing illustrative interpretation. Oddly enough, I read the newer version of Cakes and Miracles first, before realizing that there even was a difference in text, so I was on the lookout, with this 1991 edition, for any pieces of narrative that weren't included in the 2010 reprint.

What I discovered, to my surprise, was that the differences were not insignificant, and while the newer edition does preserve the basic storyline and meaning of the original, a lot of the nuance - particularly the more poignant and/or disturbing elements of the tale - were omitted. The scene in which Hershel makes mischief in school, for instance, setting a frog loose in Reb Shimmel's class; or the one in which his mother says: "If you had eyes you could..." (something Hershel didn't like to hear), were deleted from the 2010 text. I'm sure the intention was to make a simpler story, suitable for the youngest readers, but the result was a much "sweeter" (and flatter) tale, with all the bite missing.

In the end, although I preferred the new illustrations, by Jaime Zollars - Erika Weihs' work is also appealing, in a stylized folk-art way, but isn't as warm and inviting - I liked the original text better. Four stars for the Zollars art, and four for Goldin's original narrative - I ended up giving both editions a three-star rating.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Cakes and Miracles (2010 edition), illustrated by Jaime Zollars.

I'm a big fan of Purim - a Jewish holiday celebrating the biblical story of Esther, in which children dress up in costumes, plays are given, and sweets (like Hamantaschen) are eaten - so when I learned that a new Purim picture-book was
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due out this coming November, I was quite excited. As it turns out, Barbara Diamond Goldin's Cakes and Miracles is a 2010 reissue of a picture-book first released in 1991, with new illustrations, and a shorter text. As always, in a case like this, I decided to read the two editions in tandem, in order to compare and contrast.

The tale of Hershel, a young blind boy who wants to participate in the Purim baking, as a means of helping his hard-working mother, this is a holiday story that incorporates a number of themes, from learning to live with a disability, to following one's dreams, no matter the obstacle. The text is simple and engaging, and the collage and acrylic illustrations appealing. I loved the colors Zollars used here, from her warm golden hues to her melancholy purples. All in all, a lovely Purim tale, one I might have given four stars. Unfortunately, after comparing this 2010 version with the original, from 1991, I found that while I prefer the newer artwork, I also prefer the original, unexpurgated text. In the end, I settled on three stars for each.
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LibraryThing member dukefan86
This story does a nice job, I think, of weaving the story and holiday of Purim with the plight of a young blind Jewish boy and his single mom. My impression of the mom is that she's kinda stressed by the day-to-day life of raising a blind child on her own, but the boy seems to be pretty happy and
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self-sufficient, able to help around the house and find his way down to the river to play in the mud. His muddy experiences end up coming in handy when he is able to help his mom do the baking for Purim. To find out what happens, read the book. You'll be glad you did! Nice illustrations, too!
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LibraryThing member melsmarsh
A cute Purim tale about a young blind boy who helps his mother by making special cakes for Purim.
LibraryThing member memaldonado
Hershel is a blind Jewish boy who lives with his mother Basha, and he enjoys playing in the river. Hershel plays with mud and he makes tunnels, caves, and mountains. Basha takes care of Hershel and once Purim is approaching, Hershel wants to help his mother more. Basha believes that her son is not
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able to make cookies, and that he is only efficient for brining buckets of water and wood. Hershel dreams with an angel that encourages him to make cookies, and Hershel makes cookies in many shapes. Hershel makes shapes of fishes, stars, and birds. Once Basha and Hershel sell the cookies in the market, he envisions himself as a baker, carpenter, or a toolmaker. I did not enjoy the story because it did not explain the history of Purim, so I was confused. If the history of Purim would have been incorporated into the story it would have been better. At the end of the book the history of Purim is mentioned, and there is a recipe for making a hamantashen cookie.
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LibraryThing member rdg301library
Set in a small town during Purim, Hershel, who lost his sight after getting sick, wants to help his mother make hamantashen. She at first would not let him because he could see what he was doing, until one night he prayed for sight. An angel told him to make what he sees in his dreams. After this
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visit he realizes he can make shapes with what he remembers things look like in his head.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Why is the angel blond, like a Gentile? And why do Hershel and his mother think that he can't make cakes by touch, even though he can catch frogs down by the river?
LibraryThing member MeganSchneider
This book does a great job at showing with Hershel can do, instead of what he can't. A well-behaved boy that doesn't let his disability get in the way of living his life to the fullest. Hershel met a angel one evening that taught him to make what he sees in his dreams. He brings this to his mother
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and insists they make cakes or cookies so he can make what he sees. He still does everything he needs to do, including: school, chores, and playing. A wonderful story with a person first style.
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LibraryThing member HandelmanLibraryTINR
Young, blind Hershel finds that he has special gifts he can use to help his mother during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Features a recipe for hamantashen.




½ (22 ratings; 3.9)
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