Monday, December 3, 2018

Review - Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas
by Pamela Ehrenberg
illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Date: 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

In this sweet and humorous picture book, a multi-cultural family (Mom's Indian; Dad's Jewish) celebrate Hanukkah while incorporating traditional Indian food. Instead of latkes, this family celebrates Hanukkah with tasty Indian dosas. To her brother's chagrin, little Sadie won't stop climbing on everything both at home and at the Indian grocery store, even while preparing the dosas. As the family puts the finishing touches on their holiday preparations, they accidentally get locked out of the house. Sadie and her climbing skills just may be exactly what is needed to save the day.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

What should've been a great picture book about the blending of traditions is actually more of a trainwreck featuring useless adults, zero logic... and a couple of yummy-looking recipes. Okay, I'll give it that.

The premise is flawed from the beginning. The narrator can't stand that his little sister is a climber. Hello?! She's a toddler. Some of them climb. But this kid takes it totally personally, like she's doing it with the sole purpose of ruining his life. Worse, though, is how the adults react to this climbing. When Sadie's putting herself in dangerous positions (climbing displays in the grocery store, or climbing onto the kitchen counter right beside the blazing cooktop), the adults just stand around like a bunch of morons. The extent of their involvement is telling her to get down. And when that doesn't work, they just stand there staring at her, leaving it up to the narrator to talk her down with a song. She's a freaking toddler. If she's about to climb onto the gas cooktop, you grab her and remove her from the area. Honestly.

And Sadie, somehow too stupid to understand a command like, "Get down!" eventually saves the day by crawling in the window after the family gets locked out of the house and somehow unlocking the door. The problem here (just one of many in this book) is that she's drawn to be so small that it's obvious she wouldn't have been able to reach the doorknob at all. (The grandmother was upstairs taking a nap, so Sadie could've gone to wake her up. That would've been more realistic, but then the book wouldn't have had the children unrealistically saving the day while the useless adults just stood around wringing their hands.)

At the end of the book there are a couple of recipes that look very tasty. But that's probably the only thing about this book that's worthwhile. What could've been a story about blending traditions instead turned into an expose of terrible parenting. At one point, the narrator mentioned that he was surprised their house was still standing after an afternoon of Sadie being in it. Far more surprising to me is the fact that Sadie's even still alive, given her proclivity for getting into dangerous situations and all the adults in her life just being completely useless about it.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1.33 out of 5

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