The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes

What It Is

Young Rachel and her mom are making preparations for a family Hanukkah celebration when Aunt Tilly calls to say she’s bringing along eight more mouths to feed. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough potatoes and eggs to make more latkes, the quintessential Hanukkah dish. Rachel darts off to borrow some potatoes from Mrs. Greenberg, their neighbor who lives alone and consistently declines Rachel’s annual invitation to join them. Mrs. Greenberg gladly gives her the ingredients but again, says would prefer to stay home alone. Rachel’s mom declares, “She has a heart of gold but she’s as stubborn as an ox.” After borrowing chairs from Mrs. Greenberg, which only makes their small house extra crowded, Rachel gets an idea: Move the celebration to Mrs. Greenberg’s house! Realizing that she’s been tricked, Mrs. Greenberg eagerly invites the extended family in, teasing Rachel that she is the one who is “stubborn as an ox.”

Why It’s Fun

This book falls into the “oldie but goodie” category. Linda Glaser gives us a story that is both fun and poignant, while also teaching us a bit about Hanukkah. Part of what makes Hanukkah so special is celebrating with family and friends, and ensuring that all are included—a wonderful message, regardless of your religion or time of year. Nancy Cote’s illustrations are whimsical and her version of Rachel perfectly captures the wide-eyed innocence and determination of a young girl. There is a nice element of repetition in the book as well. Each time Rachel “borrows” an ingredient from Mrs. Greenberg, the kind woman tells her “Don’t borrow. I don’t want it back. Just eat it in good health.” Ms. Glaser provides a useful teacher’s guide on her web site (www.lindaglaserauthor.com) that features great ideas for both the classroom and at home.

Who’s Going To Love It

This is a terrific seasonal read for anyone who wants to add it to their Hanukkah celebration or educate non-Jewish kids about the holiday. The publisher’s recommended age is 6 to 9, but children as young as preschool can enjoy the simple story and lively illustrations. Since my family is not Jewish, we didn’t have any Hanukkah books in the house and checked out a bunch from the library. This was our favorite and one that will be an annual read, I’m sure. Of course, you can’t go wrong if you would like to purchase it ... perhaps as a gift if you are planning to attend a Hanukkah celebration?

Reading Time

About 5-6 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

9 out of 10

Book Information

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes
By: Linda Glaser; Illustrated by Nancy Cote
Published by: Albert Whitman & Company Publishers (2001)
Approximate retail price: $6.99 (paperback)
Publisher’s recommended ages: 6 - 9

Comments

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