The weeklong Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot is celebrated at Auntie Sanyu’s Ugandan home.
Auntie Sanyu, a Ugandan Jew, or Abayudaya, builds her sukkah in her lush garden, then invites friends and family to come and stay. Warthog arrives, politely eats, and shakes the lulav (a palm frond bound together with branches of willow and myrtle for use in the Sukkot ritual), but when he sniffs the etrog, the ceremonial citrus’ lemony scent is so appealing he cannot let it go. On the successive six days when Lion, Parrot, Camel, Giraffe, and Rhino come, each takes a turn shaking the lulav, but Warthog selfishly holds onto the etrog, to the anger and annoyance of everyone else. “They took turns with the lulav. They shook it west to east. / But Warthog grabbed the etrog! And Camel muttered, BEAST!” The rhyming cumulative tale ends amicably when Auntie Sanyu’s sole human guest, her niece, Sara, joins the group and nicely asks Warthog for the etrog. “She made him feel so sheepish, he couldn’t tell her ‘No.’ / Then Warthog SHARED the etrog, and the guests all cried, BRAVO!” Digital artwork provides a colorful shot of African ambiance with animated depictions of the animals and stylized, deeply brown-skinned women. This alternate perspective presents familiar components of the holiday and provides background on the Abayudaya in an author’s note and glossary. Unfortunately, it perpetuates stereotypes of Africa by emphasizing animals over humans; surely Auntie Sanyu has more than one relation to celebrate with?
Well-meaning but misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-8)