A bit of magic and a happy ending make for a sweet New Year story. Delightful.

ONCE UPON AN APPLE CAKE

A ROSH HASHANAH STORY

Ten-year-old Saralee must save the Siegel House restaurant from disaster.

Zadie is the chief cook, and granddaughter Saralee is his executive assistant. She has an amazing superpower; she can identify even the subtlest of ingredients by smell. Rosh Hashanah is only a few days away, and Saralee’s family is already taking orders for their famous apple cake, made from a recipe with a secret ingredient, one that Saralee has never been able to identify. A rival restaurant is offering an apple cake as well, and they are prepared to go to any lengths to acquire the Siegels’ secret recipe. Watch out for new classmate Harold Horwitz! When Zadie has an accident that affects his memory, Saralee must use her ingenuity and her powerful sense of smell to discover that elusive ingredient. Saralee narrates her own tale in lively, direct language that emphasizes her kind, pragmatic, and earnest nature. Her multigenerational family (Zadie, Bubbie, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but evidently no parents for Saralee) is secure in their Jewish traditions, accepting of one another’s eccentricities, and genuinely loving. There is no intimation that the Siegels are outsiders or any sense of “otherness.” Her multiracial school seems to have an all-Jewish population; perhaps it is a yeshiva or Jewish day school. Humorous cartoon illustrations are interspersed throughout.

A bit of magic and a happy ending make for a sweet New Year story. Delightful. (recipe) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68115-549-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A charming contemporary story with a classic feel.

ZARA'S RULES FOR RECORD-BREAKING FUN

From the Zara's Rules series , Vol. 1

A 10 ¾-year-old girl weathers changes in her social circle—and her sense of self.

Dubbed “Queen of the Neighborhood” by beloved neighbor Mr. Chapman, who has sadly left Maryland for balmy Florida, Zara is apprehensive when a family with two kids moves into his house, potentially upsetting the delicate social balance. Readers familiar with Khan’s Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream books, set a few years after this series opener, will recognize the bustling Pakistani American Muslim household. Assertive, organized Zara and rambunctious 7-year-old Zayd live with their Mama and Baba; the siblings’ grandparents and uncle are integral parts of their daily lives. Zara and Zayd enjoy playing outside with their friends—Black sisters Jade and Gloria, White Alan, and Chinese American Melvin. Mr. Chapman always said that Zara knew how to “rule with grace and fairness,” but new arrivals Naomi and Michael, Jewish kids who are eager to engage socially, put this to the test. When Jamal Mamoo, Mama’s brother, brings over his Guinness World Records book, Zara decides that becoming a world-record holder is the boost her social status needs. Her humorous (and futile) attempts to make her mark ultimately lead her to being a more patient and understanding big sister and more flexible and supportive companion to friends old and new. Strong pacing, fluid prose, engaging hijinks, and heartwarming scenes of family life and outdoor play are complemented by expressive illustrations.

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9759-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot.

NOAH GREEN SAVES THE WORLD

Jewish summer camp adventures get a little too goofy.

Budding director Noah is certain he’s on his way to film camp—after all, he’s been nagging his parents about it nonstop. But instead, he and his sister are shipped off to Camp Challah, where the socially awkward tween is not confident about making friends. Just before going away, Pops, Noah’s grandfather, tells him he needs Noah’s help saving the world. But the alter kocker is known for his bombastic pronouncements, so not even Noah takes him seriously until a carrier pigeon arrives with a note from Pops. Whatever anyone else expects—or doesn’t expect—of Noah, his real plan is to do what Pops says. Somehow he ends up making friends who go along for the ride, nonsensical and unclear though it is. The first half of the book takes a more realistic tone, with typical camp activities, and it’s not until halfway through that Pops reappears in the flesh to take Noah along. Not only is the pacing off, but it’s odd when the antagonist threatening the world turns out to be an asteroid—not what readers might expect from a grandfather who regularly claims to have been a secret agent during World War II. A supporting character described as part Navajo makes wartime Code Talkers less the undersung heroes they are and more another goofball plot addition.

Uncomfortably frenetic for something so devoid of plot. (Mystery/adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6036-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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