The Royal Recipe: A Purim Story

Apples & Honey. (Saralee Siegel: Bk. 4). Feb. 2023. 128p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781681156071.
Gr 3-6–Beginning reader chapter books that feature Jewish holidays are unique; Rubenstein has created an ongoing series of these. This one is about Purim, the biblical account in which Queen Esther saved the lives of Persian Jews whom Haman, King Ahasuerus’s evil vizier, had ordered to be exterminated. Saralee Siegal, a 10-year-old kid with a secret weapon—her “super-nose,” which can smell “so much more than the ordinary”—uses her gift to save her family from Haman, whom she has accidentally conjured up from the ancient past. Haman, now known as Herman, plots to take over the Siegal family’s Purim celebration by permanently replacing Saralee as her grandfather’s executive assistant at the family’s restaurant, Siegel House. Naalchigar’s black-and-white drawings enhance the plot, and several “ingredients only” recipes are scattered throughout. The only recipe that gives readers an exact explanation is for Hamantashen, the triangular cookies that long ago were named for Haman and his three-cornered hat. The cookies play a smelly yet important role in helping Saralee thwart the Haman’s mean plot.
VERDICT This book is likely to be enjoyed more by young readers who are already familiar with Jewish traditions than those who are not. However, the unique theme of Purim will enhance multicultural literature collections of early reader chapter books and should be considered as a worthwhile purchase.

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