Set in Australia, this take on baking a traditional Jewish food focuses on a family of koalas.
Little sister Lila is eager to help her koala family prepare for the Friday night Shabbat celebration, but her efforts are more messy than useful. “Koala bears love eucalyptus!” and so Lila tries to make eucalyptus candles, unsuccessfully. Her attempts to make wine with eucalyptus leave a messy kitchen, as does her craft project to adorn the dinner table. Finally, Lila gets permission to bake a challah, the traditional braided egg bread served for the Sabbath, provided she practices. Each night, starting on Sunday, she bakes but puts in too much or too little from the ingredient list. On Friday, she finally succeeds in baking a delicious bread with the addition of that very special koala favorite, and the family sits down to a wonderful holiday dinner. Lila’s father wears a kippah on his head, showing that they are observant. Both families who hold Sabbath dinners and those who do not will enjoy Lila’s efforts to contribute. Placing the story in an unusual setting should lead to discussions about variations in food preparation and long-cherished customs. Mola’s colorful, full-bleed illustrations fill in some of the details of the recipe not in the text and add to the enjoyment.
Warm-spirited family holiday togetherness. (Picture book. 3-6)