Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story Book Poster Image
Folksy tale shares the miracle of simple things.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A family doesn't let disappointment ruin their holiday. By sharing what they have they find joy even in a hard situation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The parents and kids pull together and are able to celebrate the holiday even without their traditional foods.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this pleasant little tale presents a positive, friendly message. This book offers a good explanation of Hanukkah traditions in folk tale form.

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What's the story?

When a blizzard nearly buries their village in snow on the first night of Hanukkah, the Menashe family has to celebrate without their usual latkes and applesauce, and they are faced with the realization that the storm may last for the entire eight-day celebration. Though they are disappointed, they create a festive spirit as best they can. On the very last day, a winter miracle makes it a Hanukkah to remember.

Is it any good?

Though this is a new story, it sounds a lot like a familiar, comforting folk tale that might have been passed down through the generations. Its tone is simple, the language folksy, and the message loving in a very traditional way. The small family lives in a candlelit cottage in a time far away in the past, and their story gives a new and pleasant twist to the miracle of Hanukkah.

The chalk-drawn illustrations by Robin Spowart are amazing, even in the paperback edition. Inside the house, soft, golden candlelight floods the shadowed background of each room with a warmth that positively glows. Outside, snow swirls in a blue-black cold until finally it settles into a peaceful mound of silver-blue light under a star-speckled sky. Rounded lines and gentle curves, nothing too startling in its contrast, create the perfect enhancement for this gentle tale. Even readers who don't celebrate Hanukkah will feel the happiness that emanates from both the text and the illustrations of this book. They will also appreciate the explanation of the holiday as well as the recipe for potato latkes and instructions for playing dreidel that follow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hanukkah and its traditions. How did those traditions get started? What would happen if something forced the traditions to change -- would you be able to think of new ways to celebrate?

Book details

For kids who love winter holidays

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