Yiddish with George and Laura by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman

Yiddish with   George and Laura by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover, 108 pages, 2006

Rating: 8/10

Reason for Reading: We’ll call this a tribute to the mid-term elections of our southern neighbours.

Synopsis: George and Laura Bush take their daughters to visit George Sr and Barbara for their birthdays, and are also joined by George’s charming assortment of brothers…but they’re doing it in Yiddish. Watch the dysfunctional presidential family interact with each other, all while learning Yiddish words to slyly get your digs in at the shmendrik in your life.

Why you should read this book: Everything really is more fun in Yiddish. It might appear simplistic, but the punches are packed into the glossary, which is full of explanations of the Yiddish words used in the stories, along with further jokes in the sentences that explain how the word might be used. The same crowd that watches The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will definitely get a kick out of Yiddish with George and Laura, as will many other Democrats. Some of the humour is harsh, but then, you could argue that war is pretty harsh, too. The book is innocent-looking enough without all of the translations (which are fun to guess at, by the way), but wonderfully snarky underneath it all. The illustrations are also nicely done, capturing a great likeness of the Bush family without descending into exaggerations or too-obvious visual gags.

Why you should avoid this book: Not really much of a stocking stuffer for the Republican in your life, unless they’re only in your life because you can’t get rid of them. The do-nothing Democrats don’t go entirely unscathed either, but the focus is definitely on Bush’s inept ruling. Having to flip back to the Glossary of Yiddish Words isn’t the most convenient way to read, but the book is definitely short enough to make a second read-through a thing of ease.

Opening paragraph:

See George.
He is our president.
He lives in a fancy white house and is a big shmegegge.

Fabulous quotes:

shmegegge (shmeh-GEGG-ee, with hard g‘s) – n. A buffoon, an idiot, a fool. ‘That Joe Lieberman – he’s such a shmegegge even the Democrats won’t vote for him.’

‘Hey, Jeb,’ says George. ‘Why don’t you bite my shvants?’
Shvants (shvahnts – rhymes with ‘Hans’ with an added t) – n. Slang for penis. ‘What’s the difference between Clinton and Bush? Clinton was overly influenced by his shvants, and Bush is overly influenced by his Dick.’

Also recommended: Dude, Where’s My Country? by Michael Moore.

Also by these authors: Yiddish with Dick and Jane; also by Ellis Weiner: The Joy of Worry; Drop Dead, My Lovely: The Big Boat to Bye-Bye; Santa Lives! Five Conclusive Arguments for the Existence of Santa Claus.

Fun tidbit: Yiddish with George and Laura was illustrated by Larry Ruppert.

Would I read more by this author? It would depend on the topic.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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