Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas

illus. by Anjan Sarkar. 40p. Farrar. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374304447.
PreS-Gr 1—Cultures merge in this holiday story about a boy with an Indian mother, a Jewish father, and a mischievous little sister named Sadie. Instead of traditional potato pancakes, this family celebrates Hanukkah by making dosas, a fried Indian pancake of rice and beans. From buying ingredients at the Indian market, to grinding the dal and rice and frying the batter in coconut oil, the process feels both different and familiar, and creates an opportunity for the author to explore the mingling of traditions. Unfortunately, the first-person narrative is bogged down by a contrived plot focusing on Sadie's penchant for climbing on things and her brother's random discovery that he can make her get down by singing a modified version of "I had a little dreidel," which comes in handy when the family gets locked out of the house during their Hanukkah party. The colorful illustrations are festive and bright, including wonderful endpapers that highlight common ingredients used in Indian food, yet the visual appeal of this book does not compensate for the weakness of the text. Furthermore, references to the holiday itself at times seem offhanded: "Just like the Maccabees, my mom rubbed oil in a pan called a tawa, where we cook the dosas."
VERDICT An additional selection for large holiday collections.

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