May 07

This is Not a Cholent Book Birthday

Today is the release day of my new picture book This is Not a Cholent, beautifully illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. To be honest I have chopped onions in my stomach just like Amira does in the book. What was I thinking writing a book about my grandmother’s Iraqi Jewish t’bit?

The truth is whilst this is such a fun book as Amira shares her grandmother’s t’bit stew recipe in a cholent competition with so many lovely, strange ingredients, it also tells a deeper story. The story of the immigrant child who loves where they come from, but gets nervous as they face the reality that nobody knows what they are talking about.

Most people who read this book won’t know what a cholent is (it’s a meaty, potatoey stew cooked by European Jews overnight for Saturday lunch for the Jewish Sabbath). More people won’t know about the Iraqi Jewish chicken and rice version of this stew, called t’bit. Most people don’t even know there is such a thing as Iraqi Jews. Who my family are.

This book is a social emotional learning (SEL) book to inspire children to explore where they come from and share it with gusto, even if they feel a teensy bit nervous, or maybe very nervous, to carry on and believe in themselves and their special foods, their own special family stories. It may smell strange but it’s travelled many hands to be here.

I hope you enjoy This is Not a Cholent, please send me messages (they completely make my day), write reviews, make t’bit for a loving family, friends or even community meal, more than that share your own personal stories of being immigrants, or feeling nervous sharing special traditions as a child which tell the story of where you come from.

Meanwhile watch this space I will be blogging and updating on social media different ways you can make t’bit – from my grandmother’s authentic recipe which is at the back of This is Not a Cholent, to an adapted easy and quick version, as well as vegan options.

Read my interview with the wonderful Barbara Bietz on her blog Jewish Books for Kids here.

Watch my This is Not a Cholent Book Birthday Instagram Reel here.

To purchase This is Not a Cholent


Kar-Ben Publishing