The Great Latke Cook Off (Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Great Latke Cook Off, written by Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli and illustrated by Emily Siwek, a story about Chanukah latkes and family traditions.

On the first night of Chanukah, a boy asks his Grandma when she will be making her traditional potato pancakes, or latkes. She replies that she’ll make them for the eighth and final night, so Dad interjects with an idea: they will have a family competition to see who can come up with the best recipe. Mom excitedly agrees, and though Grandma seems reluctant, she agrees to participate as well. Over the next seven days, Mom and Dad are shown researching recipes, checking their cookware, buying ingredients, and fine-tuning their techniques. Meanwhile, Grandma knows what she’s making: the same recipe passed down from her own Grandmother to her mother, then to her. The night of the big Cook Off, the three chefs prepare their latkes to be judged by Grandpa and the boy, who has hand-made a blue ribbon for the top competitor. Who will win: Dad’s advanced cooking techniques? Mom’s fancy ingredients? Or Grandma, with a recipe steeped in tradition?

Very sweet. A unique story about family, togetherness, and tradition to celebrate a holiday that is about all three, the book does a great job of creating a fun narrative that is accessible for both followers and non-followers of the Jewish faith. Chanukah and its traditions are not explored much beyond latke ingredients and a menorah icon used to denote the passage of days, so while this may not be the best book to introduce Chanukah, it is a great supplemental. The illustrations are simple, yet retain a winning charm. However, there are some issues with formatting – quotations are often not given a new paragraph, etc. – that can make dialogue confusing to read. Still, the length was fine, JJ enjoyed it, and there’s even a latke recipe in the back. Small stumbles aside, a delicious read. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

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