Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Today's read... Wishing on Matzo Ball Soup by Lisa Greenwald

I've been itching to dive into this read for quite a while, now. I'll admit that it's the idea of a tale surrounding a deli, which grabbed me. I don't think I've run across that in middle grade fiction before. I do love a good deli and found the idea of a girl trying to save her family's business intriguing. Plus, isn't it neat to have a girl, who really wants to run the deli herself one day? This might be a great way to widen the future career horizons for middle graders, too.

In any case, I have high expectations for this read and might enjoy a bowl of matzo ball soup on the side.

Ellie's Deli, Vol. 1
by Lisa Greenwald
Illustrated by Galia Bernstein
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Contemporary
224 pages
ages 8 to 12


Ellie’s family owns the town deli. Its official name is Lukshen Deli, but everybody calls it Ellie’s Deli. When a restaurant group threatens to move in and take over, tenacious Ellie and her BFFs must prove that matzo ball soup and sour pickles are here to stay, in this adorable new middle grade fiction series with recipes and illustrations throughout.

When Ellie accidentally overhears that her family deli is most likely going to close, she does the only thing she can think of. She makes a wish on matzo ball soup.

Eleven-year-old Ellie is feisty, determined, and a little bit anxious. She considers Lukshen Deli part of the family—after all, it’s been around for four generations, ever since her great-grandmother opened it. Along with her BFF, Ava; her sisters, Anna and Mabel; her lunch buddies, Aanya, Brynn, Nina, and Sally; and her grandparents, Bubbie and Zeyda, Ellie is determined to prove that old fashioned Jewish delis can get with the times—but if her plan doesn’t work, the deli will be sold for good.
Ellie’s Wishing on Matzo Ball Soup contains over 30 charming black-and-white illustrations and 14 recipes for quintessential Jewish American deli food, like challah, chicken soup, blintz souffle, and ruggelach. It’s a delightful story about sticking up for what you believe in, business ownership, friendship, and family.


While determination, friendship, and dreams create a girl to root for, the yummy food has the reader wishing they could visit the deli themselves.

Eleven-year-old Ellie has a great family, wonderful friends, and, best of all, delicious food whenever she wants thanks to the family's deli. Unfortunately, the deli's business has been going down hill. When she overhears her parents mentioning they might have to close for good, Ellie's world crashes around her. Not ready to ever give up the deli, she decides to see what she can do to save it. Luckily, she has amazing friends on her side...or maybe not. A new girl throws a wrench into her friendships, and she's learning that there's more problems to the deli than just the declining customer base. Even a wish on the special chicken soup might not be enough to save everything.

This is a charming read from beginning to end. Ellie is a character with a big heart, lots of love, and enough spunk to ensure she can't be underestimated. The dedication she has to her family and friends sets a wonderful foundation, which gives that extra sense of warmth. Friendship drama and family health issues bring all-to-familiar problems, which many readers can identify with in some way or another. While these add depth and heart, they also are handled in wholesome ways, which make Ellie that much more likeable as she does her best to stay afloat and still make a difference.

Ellie's personality drives this tale and inspires. Readers will enjoy watching how she and her friends find solutions where the adults cannot...and none of these stretch beyond the realm of reality. Instead, kids get the message that they can make a difference if they put forth the effort. 

To top things off, there are simple but fun illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. There is also a recipe at the beginning of each chapter. These vary greatly not only in types of food (hearty to sweet), but also span a somewhat wide span of cooking skills, making sure that there are some recipes for the younger end of the age group as well as the upper. If nothing else, parents can lend a hand...which fits to the family togetherness of Ellie's deli. Also, the author has naturally worked in various facets of the Jewish culture and traditions. So, there's more than just a lovely story involved, and I can't wait to see what other adventures Ellie and the deli will bring in the future.

And here they are...

Lisa Greenwald lives in New York City with her husband and two young daughters. She loves sunglasses, reading, the beach, and sushi. Visit her at

Galia Bernstein was born and raised in Israel. Today, she is a full-time illustrator and author who also works in textile design and ceramics. Her debut author/illustrated picture book, I AM A CAT, was published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in 2018, received 3 star reviews, and was translated into 15 languages. Her second picture book, LEYLA, was published May 2019, with a starred review from PW, was named as a Summer 2019 Selection by the Junior Library Guild and was translated to 6 languages.​ Galia lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this lovely review!!

Ms. Yingling said...

How did I almost miss this? Getting a copy from Edelweiss RIGHT NOW!!!