My Name Is Hamburger

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 7
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Say your name with pride!

Trudie Hamburger is the only Jewish kid living in the small southern town of Colburn in 1962. Nobody else at her school has a father who speaks with a German accent or a last name that means chopped meat. Trudie doesn’t want to be the girl who cries when Daniel Reynolds teases her. Or the girl who hides in the library to avoid singing Christian songs in music class. She doesn’t want to be different. But over the course of a few pivotal months, as Trudie confronts her fears and embraces what she loves—including things that make her different from her classmates—she finally finds a way to say her name with pride.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 7
Reading Level Grade 4
Category Diverse Books: Celebrating Differences , Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2022
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 240
Publication Date 2022-10-01
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV039230, JUV016140, JUV039140
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 870
Features Author/Illustrator biography and Reviewed

Author: Jacqueline Jules

Jacqueline Jules is an award-winning author and poet. Her many children's books include The Hardest Word (National Jewish Book Award finalist), What a Way to Start the New Year! A Rosh Hashanah Story, and Moses and the Runaway Lamb. She lives in Long Island, New York.


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Jewish Book Council

The title of Jacque­line Jules’s high­ly rec­om­mend­ed new nov­el-in-verse reflects the ironies of grow­ing up Jew­ish in a small south­ern town in the mid – twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Trudie Ham­burg­er has lov­ing par­ents and close friends. Her father’s Ger­man accent and her family’s obvi­ous dis­tance from their church-attend­ing neigh­bors present chal­lenges; and she is ostra­cized for her seem­ing­ly odd last name. While Trudie’s Jew­ish home life and syn­a­gogue atten­dance strength­en her iden­ti­ty, the near era­sure of her father’s trau­mat­ic past leaves a gap in her under­stand­ing. Jules’s tone is under­stat­ed, invok­ing a spe­cif­ic time and place, but it encour­ages today’s young read­ers to iden­ti­fy with and learn from Trudie’s experience.

Adults shar­ing this mid­dle-grade nov­el with their chil­dren and stu­dents will con­nect with cul­tur­al touch­stones of the era, from pop­u­lar music to books. Jules, a librar­i­an as well as an author, cap­tures the lit­er­ary tastes of a book­ish girl, with ref­er­ences to the Half Mag­ic series and biogra­phies of icon­ic women. Young read­ers, even if unfa­mil­iar with these allu­sions, will appre­ci­ate the way that the book places Trudie’s dilem­ma in an era that is dif­fer­ent but still rec­og­niz­able. Trudie feels hurt when oth­er girls exclude her, frus­trat­ed by injus­tices that appear in school and at home. Not only that, her mother’s con­stant atten­tion to Trudie’s younger broth­er, who was born pre­ma­ture­ly, pro­vokes some resentment.

The anti­semitism at the core of the sto­ry is not vio­lent, nor is it obvi­ous­ly men­ac­ing. It is a painful sub­text under­ly­ing Trudie’s emo­tion­al respons­es. Her last name match­es the most iden­ti­fi­ably Amer­i­can food and, at the same time, marks her as for­eign. Some of the prej­u­dice she encoun­ters is pas­sive, such as the class­mate who will not invite her to an exclu­sive coun­try club. But one fel­low stu­dent hurls taunts at her, com­par­ing her to ”chopped meat.” Worse, adults in posi­tions of author­i­ty some­times abuse their pow­er. The music teacher exiles Trudie from class rather than mod­i­fy­ing her selec­tions of Chris­t­ian songs. Even though Trudie finds refuge in the library with Mrs. Bryan, who encour­ages and sup­ports her, her iso­la­tion dif­fer­en­ti­ates her from the rest of her com­mu­ni­ty. When an Asian Amer­i­can boy moves to the town, he and Trudie bond over their love of read­ing, and she also finds the courage to chal­lenge his marginalization.

Hop­ing to pro­tect her, Trudie’s par­ents have left a great deal unsaid about the miss­ing mem­bers of her father’s fam­i­ly. She ques­tions the vague expla­na­tion that “Daddy’s fam­i­ly didn’t ‘make it out.’ No one wants to explain to kids what that means.” Trudie is torn between her deter­mi­na­tion to one day learn the truth and her desire to spare her father any fur­ther suf­fer­ing. As the story’s events unfold, Trudie’s fam­i­ly, and even some of their neigh­bors, are forced to rec­og­nize the dan­gers of pro­ject­ing their fears onto any­one per­ceived as dif­fer­ent. As a result, Jules strikes a care­ful bal­ance between a uni­ver­sal mes­sage and Trudie’s indi­vid­ual envi­ron­ment. The awk­ward dis­so­nance between her name and the place she calls home does not defeat her; read­ers know that she will put past and present togeth­er and find her way forward.

Association of Jewish Libraries

“A historically accurate portrayal of many families’ Jewish American experience in the mid-twentieth century, with themes of antisemitism and anti-immigration that are relevant to today…a welcome addition to the canon of children’s novels in verse about the immigrant experience in America.”―Association of Jewish Libraries