Friday, August 22, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 125

Dynamic Duo: Book 1

Picture Book: The Blessing Cup                     

Author & Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Summary: Anna, a child in this story, is the author’s great-grandmother. A beautiful china tea set is used as part of their Shabbat (Sabbath) ritual. Anna asks again for the story of the tea set, a wedding gift from a rich aunt. With the set came a note: “This tea set is magic. Anyone who drinks from it has a blessing from God. They will never know a day of hunger. Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy… and they will never be poor.” When all Jews are forced to leave Russia, Anna’s family takes only a few items. Their treasured tea set is included. During their difficult journey on the way to America, Anna’s father becomes gravely ill. They are fortunate to be taken in by a widowed doctor who heals Anna’s father and supports and delights in the family. When the doctor is threatened for housing Jews, he arranges for and purchases their passage to America. Anna’s mother leaves the tea set with him as a gesture of gratitude and hope for his blessings, but she keeps 1 cup so that the blessings could also travel with them. They arrive in America where the author explains how this cup has continued to be part of her family’s rituals, being given to the oldest daughter upon her wedding day.  

Hanna’s Comments: Twenty-five years after the publication of The Blessing Quilt (see tomorrow's PBT offering), Polacco offers another lovely book about the bonds of love and ritual uniting generations of her family. Even a stranger, whose hospitality saves a life - perhaps a whole family, is bound to them because of this tea set. There is so much to explore here. Even though this book mentions the Shabbat ritual, I felt it was still appropriate to include as a secular picture book. The family’s theology is not a part of this story. If the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) are part of your tradition, use this book to explore how the Shabbat ritual links generation upon generation going all the way back to the time of Moses.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Simon & Schuster, 2013

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 48

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: aliens/immigrants/immigration/refugees/strangers, ancestors/matriarchs & patriarchs, artifacts, belonging, blessings, bonds/connections, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, communion/Eucharist, difficulties, Europe, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation, family, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, gifts/giftedness/talents, God’s care/providence, heritage, home, homelessness, hospitality, image of God, immigration, insecurity, journeys/pilgrimages/migrations/quests, kindness, legends/myths, possessions, prejudice, religious differences, rescue, reverence, safe place/sanctuary, security, sharing, social justice, at table, time/timing/over time, travel, treasure, unity, victims

Scripture Connections: You shall keep my Sabbaths… a sign throughout your generations (Exodus 31:13)

Idea(s) for Application: Joyce Rupp has written many wonderful books designed for adult small groups. One of my favorites is The Cup of Our Life: A Guide for Spiritual Growth. Reading this book would be a fabulous way to begin such a small group.

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