Happy Hanukkah, everyone!
No, we’re not Jewish, but my family likes to celebrate Hanukkah. And this is one of the picture books I like to read every year. It doesn’t really explain the meaning behind the holiday, so it’s not a great teaching tool, but it’s flavored with hope and family, two of the holiday’s most important ingredients.
Within, Salma’s and Dora’s mother has died, and the girls are having a difficult time anticipating this first Hanukkah without her. Papa steps in and, with the girls recalling all the preparations Mama used to take, prepares for the first night of the eight day celebration. His latkes (traditional potato pancakes), however, aren’t quite the same as Mama’s.
This book is gorgeously illustrated, and it so beautifully shows the tradition surrounding this ancient festival. But it also portrays the heartache of missing a loved one and the hope of remembering her. Papa, with his twinkling eyes and his sly humor, is a wonderful character, filling in as Mama and Papa and holding the family together with love. He’s not perfect, but he’s so likable and solid.
I don’t review many pictures books, and I don’t commonly use a rating system, but Papa’s Latkes is an easy five star.
A few years ago, my kids and I studied and celebrated all the Jewish feasts for homeschool. If you’re curious, you can find posts about each of them on my other blog under Holidays->Jewish. I’ve pulled out a few that relate to Hanukkah: