Shortlisted for The Carnegie Medal for Illustration Award 2023
A beautifully illustrated and presented intergenerational graphic novel that follows 11-year-old Benji and his elderly grandmother, Bubbe Rosa, as they traverse Brooklyn and Manhattan, gathering the ingredients for a Friday night dinner.
Praise for Alte Zachen
"The graphic novel format brilliantly allows us to see Bubbe in both her present and her past, allowing the reader to better understand her in all her cranky, opinionated grandeur, along with her sweet, caring grandson, Benji. A wonderful intergenerational story about the value of old things." -- Marissa Moss, Children's Book Author & Illustrator
"Taking a walk with Rosa and Benji just might change how readers see the world and everyone's place in it. Highly recommended for graphic novel collections". -- School Library Journal Starred Review *Best Children's Books of 2022 selection*
"Phillips's del-i-cate col-ors and fine details illus-trate the rich-ness of city life. Two sis-ters argu-ing on a train, a cou-ple danc-ing togeth-er, and immi-grants' first view of the Stat-ue of Lib-er-ty -- these are all images that Bubbe con-jures while look-ing back over the years. In one full-col-or scene that inte-grates past and present, she comes to terms with the inevitabil-i-ty of change. As the book ends, with grand-moth-er and grand-son against a New York City sky-line, new-ness does not seem so threat-en-ing, after all". -- Jewish Book Council
''To outsiders, Benji's Bubbe is just a crabby old lady. To the boy, and eventually to us, she becomes a vulnerable figure deserving of great tenderness. "Alte Zachen" is less ambitious and searing than Art Spiegelman's "Maus," but like that graphic novel it expands our understanding of the gulf that can exist between generations, particularly those divided by catastrophe''. -- Wall Street Journal
''Softly lined watercolor art portrays a moving narrative...even as Benjy and Bubbe's worldviews clash, the Yiddish-peppered telling renders a familial bond that is at once mercurial and unshakable.'' -- Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
''Compelling and evocative, Alte Zachen is an eloquent intergenerational story that will resonate with and enlighten readers of all ages''. -- Celebrate Picture Books
''For a first graphic novel, Alte Zachen is a true success. This is award-winning storytelling''. -- Books for Keeps
''Every so often a book appears and you just know what an impact it's going to have. Alte Zachen by #ZiggyHanaor and @benjamindraws is one of those books''. -- Children Reading for Pleasure
''A tour de force. On behalf of all the #Bubbes and #Benjis thank you @cicadabooks for such a joyful and redemptive picture book''. -- Youth Libraries Group
''Exploring themes of migration, alienation, loss, perception and identity, this is both an important book and a window into our children's futures and our parents' pasts''. -- School Reading ListBubbe's relationship with the city is complex - nothing is quite as she remembered it and she feels alienated and angry at the world around her. Benji, on the other hand, looks at the world, and his grandmother, with clear-eyed acceptance. As they wander the city, we catch glimpses of Bubbe's childhood in Germany, her young adulthood in 1950s Brooklyn, and her relationships; first with a baker called Gershon, and later with successful Joe, Benji's grandfather. Gradually we piece together snippets of Bubbe's life, gaining an insight to some of the things that have formed her cantankerous personality. The journey culminates on the Lower East Side in a moving reunion between Rosa and Gershon, her first love. As the sun sets, Benji and his Bubbe walk home over the Williamsburg Bridge to make dinner.
This is a powerful, affecting and deceptively simple story of Jewish identity, of generational divides, of the surmountability of difference and of a restless city and its inhabitants.