The first night of Hanukkah brings initial disappointment but finally great happiness to the youngest of the family.
It is 1912 on New York City’s Lower East Side, and two sisters are hurrying home to their family to prepare for Hanukkah. Gertie is especially eager because Mama will be making potato pancakes—a once-a-year treat for her “all of a kind” five daughters. At 4, the youngest, Gertie wants to help her older sisters, but Mama will not let her peel or grate the potatoes, chop the onions, or fry the pancakes in the schmaltz, triggering a tantrum. After Gertie’s fit of anger, Mama takes her daughter to the bedroom, where she hides under the bed. It is Papa, a very wise father indeed, who knows what to say and how to make Gertie feel so special. She will recite the blessings with Papa and light the first candle. A festive dinner of chicken and latkes for the entire family follows. Writing with the support of the Sydney Taylor Foundation, Jenkins expertly captures the warm family spirit of the classic books and their time for a new generation of readers. Zelinsky’s digital artwork brilliantly evokes the crowded but cozy tenement world of the early 20th century, while his use of perspective lovingly draws readers into the drama.
Share this joyous holiday tale of a Jewish immigrant family all year long. (glossary, author’s note, illustrator’s note, link to latke recipe, sources) (Picture book. 3-7)