Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat: A Chanukah Story

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Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, Naomi Howland

 

Happy Chanukah!

I recently discovered this lovely book about Chanukah and latkes. Who doesn’t like latkes?? So delicious.

In this folktale, Sadie lives in a drafty house with her four little brothers and they’re so poor that they always worry about their next meal.  On the first night of Chanukah, as Sadie collects firewood, she meets an old woman and kindly offers the wood to her. For her kindness, the old woman gives her a magical frying pan and tells her the words to use it but she must remember to keep them a secret! When Sadie puts the pan on the stove and whispers the words, a feast of latkes appear in the pan. On the last day of Chanukah, her naughty brothers wait for her to leave the house then try to use the pan. But of course they didn’t hear the words correctly and soon the entire village is overflowing with tender, salty, delicious latkes!!

Howland’s gouache and colored pencil illustrations are folksy and beautiful. The story takes place in Russia and she includes colorful folk art flower borders in the illustrations. The character of Sadie is based on an old photograph of her grandmother and the story itself is inspired by The Magic Porridge Pot by The Brothers Grimm. Howland is also kind enough to include a recipe for latkes at the end of the book and there’s a note about Chanukah/Chanukah traditions for readers who aren’t familiar with the holiday.

Happy Chanukah! I hope you’ll seek out this cute story about family, culture and sharing with community. I’m off to find some latkes…

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Chanukah, We Need Diverse Books, Cultural Diversity, Holidays, Food Culture, Religions, Family, Folktale, Morals, Magic, Kindness, Family, Community, Celebration, Storytelling, Russia, Latkes
Book Info: Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat:  A Chanukah Story by Naomi Howland, 2004 (Reprint) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 9780618492954

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Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

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Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Grace Lin

I have a thing for Grace Lin’s art. Let me just get that off my chest. I already love her book Dim Sum for Everyone! and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Ling and Ting want everyone to know that they are not the same. They may be “identical” but they really aren’t the same. In this beginning chapter book, each chapter is a different episode in their lives. Ling can’t really sit still but Ting can. At the barber, Ting has a big sneeze and he snips her hair a little too much! Ting is a little forgetful but she’s also very imaginative. They’re both very caring towards each other and they like to tell good stories.

Grace Lin includes cultural details like making dumplings but the book doesn’t focus on “Being Chinese” The girls are simply girls who are silly and…happen to be Chinese. This is refreshing because children’s books that feature children of color are often historical stories or ones that pointedly focus on ethnicity. Those books definitely have their place but it sure is nice to simply read a great story featuring diverse characters!

Lin’s art style is beautiful; it’s obvious she spends a lot of time painting each illustration. Her paintings are full of bold lines and blocks of color and Ling and Ting’s expressions are very cute and funny. This is a great beginning chapter book series and if you enjoy this one, Ling and Ting have several more adventures!

 

Recommended for: Kindergarten- 2nd Grade
Great for: Twins, Siblings, Sisterhood, Family, Diversity, Cultural Diversity We Need Diverse Books, Chinese Americans, Chinese Food, Food Culture, Friendship, Individuality, Girl Power, Beginning Readers
Book Info: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin, 2010 Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ISBN: 9780316024525

The World in a Second

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Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Isabel Minhós Martins, Bernardo P. Carvalho

The World in a Second is very high concept and I love it! This is how I describe this book: Bam…BAM…bam…bam…Bammity BAM BAM…oooooh…Bam. The end?

What did you get from that? I’m odd? Why yes, I am but what I attempted to express is how fast-paced this book is. The pace of the book suits the title well because it’s about the passage of time, specifically one second, consecutively, in 23 places around the world with each page showing one second, across every time zone, in no particular order. The world is a flurry of activity and inactivity.

This book is mysterious and it may leave you with several…questions. There are many things to think about and discuss within each page second. I’ve reviewed a similar book called At The Same Moment, Around the World and although it’s also about world time, it’s much slower, makes more an effort to create a narrative and actively teaches children about the concept of “the time zone.” This book does not. It does teach, just in a different way. The scenes are more open to interpretation and reflection and this book is generally more abstract. Also, it’s so beautifully diverse! Lots of people to look at from all over the world!

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Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Isabel Minhós Martins/Bernardo P. Carvalho

Carvalho’s illustrations are very confident, blocky, detailed and vague. He invites us inside of a busy car in traffic, takes us inside the branches of an orange tree just as an orange falls and we get to observe a man resting quietly. I think children will enjoy the illustrations because they’re so bold and there’s a lot to discover which is great for inquisitive minds.

The World in a Second was originally published in Portugal in 2008. Thank you Enchanted Lion Books for translating and bringing this book to the US for us to enjoy!

P.S. Pay close attention to the last page! 😉

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Discussion, Storyboarding, Imagination, Time Zones, Family, Community, Read-Aloud, Portugal, Animals, Mystery, Colors
Book InfoThe World in a Second by Isabel Minhós Martins/Illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho, 2015 Enchanted Lion Books, ISBN: 9781592701575