Watch the author and take a peek inside
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Omer Hoffman
Price: £ 9.99 / $12.99
- A vivid fictional account of how the iconic British meal, fish and chips, was born.
- Celebrates the contributions made by immigrants to British culture.
- Includes historical notes and the author’s own old family recipe for fried fish in matzo meal.
Joseph Malin loves his grandmother’s fried fish, which she makes to an old family recipe.
It’s so good, he thinks he might be able to make some money from it; money that his immigrant Jewish family desperately needs. He takes it into the marketplace of 19th Century London’s East End and calls out to passers-by: ‘Fresh from the ships/Hot n’ tasty fried fish’. Before long, people are coming from far and wide to try the delicious snack.
But his success inspires a rival. Annette, the greengrocer across the street, sees an opportunity to hawk her own family favourite: Belgian-style fried potatoes. Piping hot chips!”/So crisp, so delish, she calls. And they’re a hit too.
The competition between Joseph and Annette heats up as they each try to outsell each other at the market. And then one day…Crash! The two collide. Chips slip. Fish flies. It’s a disaster. Or—perhaps not…
This is the playful fictional account of how the real-life Joseph Malin, a poor Jewish immigrant invented fish and chips, the iconic British menu item.
Helaine Becker is the bestselling author of more than 90 books for children and young adults, including the No. 1 Canadian national bestseller A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic Canada) and the international bestseller Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (Henry Holt). Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into ten languages. A New York native, Helaine has lived in Toronto, Canada for more than 20 years. She has also written Gottika for Green Bean Books.
Omer Hoffmann is an Israeli illustrator. His diverse body of work includes illustrations for newspapers, children’s books and comics worldwide. Omer’s illustrations were selected for the Hans Christian Andersen Illustration Honour List 2016 for the book Hardil Lo Ragill.
He lives in Givatayim with his wife and their two children. He also illustrated The Sages of Chelm and the Moon, published by Green Bean Books.
‘Joseph Malin loves catching and eating fish – but selling it is hard, until he thinks of marketing it ready-friend. Then, it sells like hot fish – exciting customers so much that they story buying veg from the vendor next door. So she reinvents her potatoes… The Fabulous Tale of Fish & Chips by Helaine Becker begins with the real history of Joseph Malin’s business success – then serves up the chips. Omer Hoffmann’s wonderfully detailed drawings – and Becker’s family fried-fish recipe complete the delicious package’. – Angela Kiverstein, The Jewish Chronicle
‘Kids will love Becker’s sprightly text and appreciate Joseph’s and Annette’s enterprising spirits…. Omer Hoffmann joyously brings this fun and fabulous tale to vivid life with his detailed, emotive, high energy illustrations. He effectively depicts the hustle and bustle of 19th century London dock culture; you can almost hear the vendors hawking their goods and haggling with customers in the marketplace, the sheep bleating, the chickens squawking. His visual narrative infuses the story with good helpings of verve and humor.’ – www.jamarattigan.com
‘Joseph works in his family’s shop. Fortunately, both for his customers and for today’s readers, he loves everything about fish, from buying it fresh in the market, to preparing it according to his grandmother’s recipe. Hoffmann’s drawing in sequence of the family matriarch cutting, coating, and frying the fish conveys the Malins’ dedication to their craft. Yet children will understand the difference between a person’s vocation and his ability to earn a living through it when Becker informs them that “Eating fish was one thing. That was easy. But selling it was hard.” Finally, in the midst of their household’s frenetic activity, Joseph conceives of an idea. Golden lines represent the aroma of fried fish surrounding him, while tiny dark spots of mental activity arise from his curly black hair. Their family will sell, not only fresh fish, but cooked plates of the new delicacy.
‘Conflict appears in the story when another young entrepreneur, Annette, resents his success, and decides that her grandmother’s recipe for fried potatoes has the same potential to attract customers. Annette has beautiful red hair and a look of determination on her face. When the two rivals literally crash into one another in the market, Hoffmann turns the cartoon-like event of near-disaster into a fortunate accident. There is an undertone of ethnic competition, along with a questioning of gender roles. In her author’s note, Becker explains that French and Belgian women may have brought fried potatoes to London’s East End as early as the seventeenth century. The same neighborhood eventually became a Jewish enclave. Certainly, the message of peaceful coexistence is part of Joseph and Annette’s decision to work together as they hawk their wares loudly, and “in perfect harmony.”
‘The interaction of words and pictures in this book is as harmonious as Joseph and Annette’s teamwork. Brief narration, glimpses into each character’s thoughts, and poetic phrases advance the plot. The book’s design takes full advantage of both color and blank space between images and texts, almost giving the sense of a graphic novel. Annette stands with one hand on her hip, the other casually tossing a potato in the air, as she imagines possibilities: “If Joseph can sell fried fish, why can’t I sell fried potatoes?” Soon she is hard at work, stirring a pot with so much energy that some of the potatoes fly into the air. Finally, she walks off the page with her tray of goods, followed by a goose who has trouble keeping up with her. Hoffmann uses humor to appeal to his readers, but always in an understated way.
‘There are elements that appeal to everyone here: family togetherness, immigrant ingenuity, friendship, and delicious food. Joseph Malin’s fried fish and potatoes, wonderful served hot and just as good eaten cold on Shabbat, finally have their origin story in this wonderful picture book.’ – Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council