7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #789: Featuring Yevgenia Nayberg

h1 April 3rd, 2022 by jules

(Click spread to enlarge)


“In Ukraine,” writes Yevgenia Nayberg in her new picture book I Hate Borsch!! (Eerdmans, April 2022), “you were supposed to love borsch from the first moment you picked up the vegetables.” But as a child, Yevgenia hated borsch. In this very funny — and ultimately touching — story, she learns to appreciate it after she discovers that “there was something missing” in American food.

In spreads in which the exaggerated scale amps up the humor (a huge wave of the “red, thick disgusting soup” with a massive spoon that says “UKRAINE” near it threatens to overcome young Yevgenia), Yevgenia makes her disgust clear. The beets, the cabbage, the carrots, and the “slippery, slimy tomato!” — she hated it all. She especially hated the dill, the brunt of the joke on many spreads. Life was hard, she adds, if you lived in Ukraine and didn’t likew it. “Everything that grew in Ukraine” went into the borsch pot, and she wonders: Sunflowers grew everywhere, so why not throw them in?

Many of these spreads make a link between the dish itself and the heritage and culture of Ukraine. There’s mention of a Ukrainian legend involving borsch and the fact that “every grandma in Kiev owned the only true borsch recipe.” In fact, Yevgenia received multiple recipes on her way to live in the United States (she stuffed them deep into her suitcase), where she discovered that it was called “borschT!” Her determination to eat only American foods (another very funny spread involving “the mysterious pumpkin spice latte”) falls flat on its face when she realizes that the “something missing” is everything about home and her culture, everything about the way Ukrainians embrace the dish. That’s when she digs up that suitcase and reads those old recipes and is “transported back home” — with “dill…blooming everywhere.” Of course!

There’s a lot to love here — the bright tomato-red color that dominates the palette; the photocollage elements; the exaggerated perspectives; the tender humor that makes a deeply felt point about cultural identity; and the subtle incorporation of Ukrainian text into some of the images. Don’t miss the detailed elements of design, including the cover art under the dust jacket and the funny dedication.


“When I was little, I hated borsch …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“I hated everything about it! …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“You will not leave the table until all the borsch is gone!”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“Maybe it was the red beets, dark and stormy against the white bowl. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“And suddenly, I am transported back home. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


I HATE BORSCH! Text and illustrations © 2022 Yevgenia Nayberg. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) The poem “A Lot About Undoing” by William Bortz. (You can read it here if you scroll down a bit.)

2) Long walks with friends.

3) The oldest is off visiting a college, and we are closer to knowing where she will be next year …

4) … so the youngest and I are hanging out all weekend, watching movies and playing chess. (I am very bad at chess.)

5) Troy Kotsur in CODA.

6) This new song from Soccer Mommy. It’s a perfect pop song, and it’s been playing in my head all week.

7) Plans next week to hop a plane — first time since the pandemic.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #789: Featuring Yevgenia Nayberg”

  1. Good afternoon, Imps! Hello, Yevgenia Nayberg! May we all have access to nourishing meals that fulfill us.

    Jules: Safe travels to all of you!

    My kicks:
    1) Inspiration
    2) Perseverance
    3) Warm meals
    4) Completing tasks
    5) Success
    6) Counts
    7) Certainty

  2. I like that first kick, Little Willow. It’s not like we find inspiration every week. May it carry you into this week!

  3. Love the reds and the dramatic energy of the borsch chasing young Yevgenia. Also totally love the idea of running away from something as a kid only to have it mean so much when you are older.

    Jules – Troy Kotsur is so amazing. Loved CODA so much. Yay for long walks with friends and a weekend hanging out with your youngest.

    Little Willow – especially love Warm Meals, Success, and Perseverance this week.

    My kicks this week:
    1) A short but awesome visit with one of Daisy and my favorite people, who we hadn’t seen since 2019 because they live far away.
    2) An afternoon walk to see the cherry blossoms at Mt Tabor and catch up with another friend.
    3) Watched Drive My Car and oof, what a beautiful and devastating film, in the absolute best way.
    4) Daily walks with Daisy. Slow and full of stops for sniffing things, they are a great way to slow down and breathe.
    5) Jon Batiste’s performance of Freedom at the Grammys and his multiple wins. Freedom is such a joyous song and Jon is a beacon of light and joy and spirit.
    6) Time to work in the garden.
    7) Sunday morning coffee with Daisy and a book.

    Have a great week y’all!

  4. Rachel, I want to see that performance, though I heard a snippet of it this morning. And thanks for the reminder to watch that film. I wanna seeeee it!

    So glad you got to catch up with friends. Hello to Daisy.

  5. Jules and Rachel: Drive My Car is so good!

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