The traditional Ashkenazic Hanukkah treat of latkes is about to be replaced.
The youngest sibling in an observant Jewish family narrates the family ritual of lighting the shamash, or helper candle, and then adding one more candle for each night of Hanukkah until, finally, eight are burning brightly. Blessings are recited and gifts are exchanged. The young narrator would like a cuddly animal but receives an odd assortment of presents. Or are they really that odd? At the same time, Grandma is opening an apron, a cookbook, and oven mitts. Eating a wide assortment of vegetable-filled latkes does not quite make the long-haired youngest sib happy until the final reveal—make that two! Grandma and her cooking utensils and ingredients result in a delicious if not traditional treat: “Cranberry Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Kugel.” The recipe is included at the end of the story. Oh, and that wish for a pet is also fulfilled. It is not especially cuddly, but it will be well loved. Everin’s tale is entertaining and happy and will make a pleasant addition to holiday book shelves. Ashdown’s colorful illustrations feature a googly-eyed family and a menorah depicting each night of the holiday. The historical setting of Hanukkah is assumed.
Presents for Hanukkah can be both surprising and perfect. (Picture book. 3-6)