In the new country, Shirley and her family all have big dreams. Take the family store: Shirley has great ideas about how to make it more modern! Prettier! More profitable! She even thinks she can sell the one specialty no one seems to want to try: Mama's homemade gefilte fish.
But her parents think she's too young to help. And anyway they didn't come to America for their little girl to work. "Go play with the cat!" they urge.
This doesn't stop Shirley's ideas, of course. And one day, when the rest of the family has to rush out leaving her in the store with sleepy Mrs. Gottlieb…Shirley seizes her chance!
About the Author
Paula Cohen (1964-2022) grew up in Albany, NY where her grandparents owned a small family grocery store in an immigrant neighborhood. Her family treasured books, music, and the Yiddish language (which sadly she never learned). Her grandmother made amazing kugels and gefilte fish and luckily Paula learned to make both. Paula lived in a ramshackle 1920's home in NJ with her family and mini schnauzer. Big Dreams, Small Fish was her debut picture book.
“An affectionate ode to family, fish, and creative problem solving.”—BookPage
“A joyfully Jewish yet also marvelously universal tale of a little girl who knows she can make a difference for her family’s store… if only she gets the chance” — Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore
“Beautifully illustrated….Shirley is one smart child, a real asset to her striving family. She is full of innovative ideas, which are depicted by Cohen with both humor and respect”—Jewish Book Network
“Writer and illustrator Paula Cohen succeeds in this beautifully illustrated story about an enterprising little girl who determines to save her family’s shop by promoting this dish to non-Jewish customers. Cohen deftly avoids a preachy tone, while conveying how people of different backgrounds are both alike and different. She also sends the message to young readers that they can make a difference, even when adults are skeptical of a child’s ability to change the course of events.” — Jewish Book Council
“Paula Cohen tells an all-American tale of the Yiddish diaspora in “Big Dreams, Small Fish,” a charming picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds.” — Wall Street Journal
“It’s a cute story with a happy ending, and comes with a short glossary of the Yiddish terms used in the book, as well as an explanation about gefilte fish and even a recipe for you to make your own!” —Geek Dad
"A take-charge, spunky girl character, Shirley jumps off the page with personality. Her Yiddish speaking relatives are also authentically depicted in this sweet tale. The charm of the story is enhanced by the digitally colored pencil sketches." — Association of Jewish Libraries
"“This Yiddish-punctuated slice-of-life story, Cohen’s picture book debut, wears its nostalgia lightly; the narrator’s voice is as crisp as the illustrations’ black outlines… What really matters here is timeless: an indomitable protagonist and the loving family who dotes on her.” —Publishers Weekly,