Sunday, May 3, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing, self-quarantine, isolation, etc. has challenged everyone on many levels. One of the few benefits of this time is catching up on reading.  Of course, I could go on about the virtues of reading and books, but 

That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. 
-- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Reading Travels with Sushi in the Land of the Mind by Eduard Shyfrin (White Raven Publishing, 2019) was a little like being in The Matrix. While not usually a fan of fantasy, I was drawn into the story. Aaron and Stella enjoy spending summers at their grandparents' house by the seashore (or "Down the Shore," as we say in New Jersey). They play on the beach, and then the family goes to eat at their favorite sushi restaurant, where Mr. and Mrs. Ekaku, a polite Japanese couple, serve the sushi. They come to the table and ask Stella and Aaron, salmon sushi connoisseurs, to try a new delicacy that the chef created. It is the most delicious sushi they have ever tasted: "a thousand flavors seemed to burst from within the tiny golden parcels." They close their eyes to fully focus on enjoying the sushi, and when they open them....

The are in the Mushi Land of the Mind, where Salmon Mushi, the lead of the Mushi tribe enlists their help. They must find the Supreme Ruler's Book in a cave on Memory Mountain and return it to the people, which will destroy the power of the Black Queen.

What follows is a journey through different areas of Mushi Land, where Aaron and Stella make new friends, battle enemies, learn more about this history of Mushi Land, and try to complete their mission.

What is fascinating about this book, besides the journey/quest of the children, is how Jewish elements are interwoven into the story. The Supreme Ruler is, well, the Supreme Ruler, and there are snippets of Jewish history, quotes from the Mishnah and the Talmud, a discussion of the Sefirot, a lesson in Middos, and a certain tribe that "does not eat shrimp sushi."

Adding another layer, are the principles of physics and The Golden Ratio, explained in terms clear and simple enough for young readers. Albert Einstein makes an appearance to help the kids get through a wormhole.

Tomislav Tomic's amazing illustrations made the book that much more enjoyable. The detailed black and white drawings complemented the text perfectly.

©2009 White Raven Publishing. Used with permission.
If you enjoy fantasy, or if you want to expand your horizons and read something you wouldn't normally read, this is a great choice.

Answers to Scavenger Hunt

Last month, Life Is Like a Library went on a Literary Scavenger Hunt in Jerusalem.
Here are the answers:

Amos Street in the Magan Avraham Neighborhood
National Library of Israel
Tmol Shilshom
Poetry House
Rockefeller Museum
Sefer v'Sefel
S.Y. Agnon
Ethiopia Street
American Colony Hotel
Yehuda Amichai
Eveline de Rothschild School
Bnai Brith Library

And the Real Cats of Israel are still doing what they do best:

Happy Reading!

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