Mr. Mintz's Blintzes
Mr. Mintz is famous in the neighborhood for cooking up cheesy, gooey, and delicious blintzes. He shares them each spring to celebrate the Shavuot holiday.
But something happens to Mr. Mintz this year, and he can't make his sweet treats.
Can the holiday celebration be saved?
Mr. Mintz was exactly the kind of neighbor everyone wanted.
He had a friendly word and a smile for everyone.
Plus, he was awesome at: remembering birthdays, raking leaves, carrying groceries, shovelling snow, giving bike-riding lessons, filling bird feeders, and putting out milk for cats.
And oh, what a marvelous cook Mr. Mintz was!
He'd measure and mix and chop and pour. He'd add a sponful of this and a pinch of that. He'd fill and fry and bake.
And in no time at all there'd be a dish of something so mouth-wateringly delicious that the aroma reached into every house on the street.
The neighborhood blintz maker is injured right before the blintz holiday, Shavuot.
Mr. Mintz (light-skinned, with a curly ginger mop) is a neighborly gent. He carries groceries, puts out milk for the cats, and, most importantly, is always there with a bite to eat. A “marvelous cook,” Mr. Mintz gives away most of what he prepares to his neighbors—soup for the sniffly, latkes on Hanukkah, challah for Shabbat, and gooey, tasty blintzes for the spring holiday of Shavuot. But the day before Shavuot, Mr. Mintz takes a tumble off his skateboard. He’s going to be OK, but who will make the “cheesy and apple-y…gooey and delicious” blintzes for the neighborhood? Why, the neighbors, of course! When Mr. Mintz returns from the hospital on crutches, his neighbors are all there to bring him hot tea, kittens—and blintzes. Mr. Mintz’s neighbors, nameless and lacking cultural markers, have a wide variety of skin tones and facial features in the cartoon art. It’s up to the reader to decide whether this gentle, community-minded tale depicts a racially diverse Jewish neighborhood, a neighborhood where people are happy to celebrate other cultures’ traditions, or both. An author’s note provides a two-sentence reference for the religious aspect of the holiday but returns to the focus on food with a blintz recipe. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
A cozy tale of friendship, mutual aid, neighborliness, and tasty, tasty food. (Picture book. 4-7)
Everyone in the neighborhood loves Mr. Mintz. He’s friendly, generous, and helpful; he remembers everyone’s birthday, rakes leaves, and shovels snow when needed; he brings homemade soup to a sick neighbor and delivers latkes on Hanukkah and challah on Shabbat. But Mr. Mintz is most famous for his sweet and savory, gooey and delicious Shavuot blintzes. When he breaks his leg skateboarding just before the holiday, his neighbors surprise him by working together to make the blintzes.
Cute, expressive cartoon illustrations depict a diverse contemporary neighborhood, with added speech bubbles used to enhance the text. The text mentions that “Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people,” and the appended author’s note further explains that “because the Torah is said to be nourishing, like milk, many people celebrate Shavuot by eating dairy foods such as cheese, ice cream, and blintzes.”
The strength of Mr. Mintz’s Blintzes is in how it illustrates in a fun way the Jewish values of chesed (kindness) and visiting the sick. There are similar versions of the story told about other times of year in picture books, some examples being The Cholent Brigade by Michael Herman, illustrated by Sharon Harmer (Kar-Ben, 2017), Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker (Candlewick, 2016), and The Bagel King by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Sandy Nichols (Kids Can Press, 2018).
--Michal Malen, the Jewish Book Council