The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda

Kalaniot. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781735087580.
PreS-Gr 2–This Sukkot story offers a unique view into a little-known community as they celebrate the Jewish harvest festival. Shoshi lives with her brothers and grandparents in the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda. Every year, the members of her community celebrate Sukkot by building the traditional sukkahs, or huts. They make them as beautiful as possible in the hopes of winning a contest. Villagers use their talents and resources to make each one special. One villager buys, rather than makes, the items that make his the fanciest. But when a storm goes through, it gets destroyed. The villagers come together to rebuild it, bringing items from their own sukkahs. When it wins, Shoshi declares that she is happy because they all won. The first-person text effectively explains the holiday and offers a window into this unique community, while simultaneously providing an engaging story that includes a gentle, nondidactic message. Shoshi is a well-rounded character; her experiences and feelings are universal and will speak to the audience. The brightly colored linocut-like illustrations have a slightly flat, naïve style that fits the setting, while the characters’ large, expressive eyes and colorful clothing are appealing. Extensive back matter gives a view into both the history of the Abayudaya community and the Jewish holiday.
VERDICT This unique title would be a welcome addition to any collection looking to broaden their offerings of sukkot books.

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