Bone Button Borscht
Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1995. ISBN 1-55074-224-8 l4.95 unpagedKids Can Press continues its reputation for excellence in this lcture book by Toronto storyteller Aubrey Davis. The story is a familiar one, based on the old folktale Stone Soup. In this version, it is a beggar who makes his way in the world, and he meets, not a stingy woman, but whole town, frozen in poverty anc penuriousness. The "miracle" takes place in the synagogue where the townspeople gather to see, and eventually tell the beggar to make borscht from the bone buttons he has ripped off his coat.
There are many variants of Stone Soup on the market, and one might ask why we need another. The answer is that this one, unlike many of the others, is worth reading, telling, and hearing. Davis has captured the flavour and cadence of the language of the Jewish townsfolk. Without being stereotypical. There is humour here, and warmth, and a lesson, too.
In a society in which it is a challenge to make one’s own way, Davis' beggar reminds us of something essential to the survival of the human spirit: we need each other. The beggar says "M, there’s nothing like being a beggar. Such good it brings out in people. "They share. They give. And me? I get a little something, too. It's perfect!"
The real miracle, we read at the end, is that the townspeople named to help one another without borscht, even in hard miss. That’s the miracle we're working toward today in the global village.
Order from Kids Can Press Ltd, 29 Birch Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. M4V 1E2The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 3, September 1996