Sweet Tamales For Purim
by Barbara Bietz
August House Publishers, 2020

Many Jewish families helped settle, diverse communities in the desolate, desert terrain of the Old West. Although Sweet Tamales for Purim is a work of fiction, it is inspired by a true event. In 1886, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society of Tucson planned a Purim Ball for the entire community. Barbara tells the story from the perspective of a young girl, who along with her friend, Luis plan to create a Purim festival for their town. Their plans for the celebration were well underway until the family goat, Kitzel, ate all of the traditional holiday pastries, Hamantashen. Fortunately, they find another way to celebrate Purim and the family is able to share their cultural traditions with their new neighbors.

Purim celebrates the courageous stand that Queen Esther made to save the Jewish people from being banished by the king. The young girl’s determination to create a spirited Purim celebration in her western town, provides a unique insight into how children can creatively overcome challenges when life doesn’t go as planned. Her quick thinking, persistence and resourceful actions give their first Purim festival added significance.

What reviewers are saying…

“…Bietz estab­lish­es on the first page that Purim is open to every­one in Rebecca’s small town. The sim­ple nar­ra­tive and straight­for­ward lan­guage describe a dif­fer­ent world, one where “Some folks were trav­el­ing by horse and bug­gy, some by train” to the town’s famed cel­e­bra­tion. His­tor­i­cal details, from antique modes of trans­porta­tion to writ­ing on slate boards, are fea­tured. Rebec­ca out­lines the basics of Purim’s his­to­ry and obser­vance to her friend whose “fam­i­ly cel­e­brates dif­fer­ent hol­i­days from mine.”…The book’s tar­get audi­ence of young chil­dren will enjoy the story’s sim­plic­i­ty, as well as its pos­i­tive mes­sage of coop­er­a­tion and harmony…” Jewish Book Council

“Barbara Bietz’s Sweet Tamales for Purim, enhanced by John Kanzler’s colorful illustrations, is just as sweet as its title. A tale of friendship and joyful celebration unlimited by cultural boundaries, this book is a gift to its readers and a much-needed model of true community.” Lyn Ford, writer, author and nationally recognized Affrilachian storyteller

…Author/storyteller Barbara Bietz tells this entertaining story from the perspective of a young girl, who along with her… friend, Luis plan to create a Purim festival for their town. Their plans for the celebration were well underway until the family goat, Kitzel, ate all of the traditional holiday pastries… Fortunately, they find another way to celebrate Purim and the family is able to share their cultural traditions with their new neighbors! Charming, entertaining, and with an important social/cultural message that will have special value for young Jewish readers…and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.” Midwest Book Review