Papa's Latkes

Overview

"A stirring, tender portrait of beloved children and a father helping them celebrate their mother’s memory." — BOOKLIST

For Selma and her little sister, this is their first Chanukah without Mama. When Papa comes home carrying all the ingredients for latkes, Selma is worried. Can they make the latkes without Mama? In Michelle Edwards’s poignant story, warmly illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Selma comes to realize that while Chanukah — and especially latkes — will never be the same ...

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Overview

"A stirring, tender portrait of beloved children and a father helping them celebrate their mother’s memory." — BOOKLIST

For Selma and her little sister, this is their first Chanukah without Mama. When Papa comes home carrying all the ingredients for latkes, Selma is worried. Can they make the latkes without Mama? In Michelle Edwards’s poignant story, warmly illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Selma comes to realize that while Chanukah — and especially latkes — will never be the same without Mama, Selma can still celebrate, and will always remember.

- A Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year

- An Association of Jewish Librarians Notable Children’s Book of Jewish Content

- A Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice

- A Sydney Taylor Notable Children’s Book

On the first Hanukkah after Mama died, Papa and his two daughters try to make latkes and celebrate without her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Selma and Dora are facing their first Chanukah without Mama, who died during the summer, and Papa's hopelessness as a latke-maker only underscores how much they miss her. But the family finds solace in the memory of Mama and her enduring commitment to creating a loving Jewish home. Edwards (Chicken Man) tackles a difficult subject without crossing the line from heartfelt to maudlin, while Schuett's (America Is...) tender acrylic portraits of a modest urban household in a pre-television era deepen the story's genuineness and emotional impact. Ages 5-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Selma and her little sister prepare for their first Chanukah without Mama in Papa's Latkes. As she helps Papa grate onions and potatoes, Selma recalls Mama's cheery efficiency in the kitchen. Papa's lumpy, brown pancakes are nothing like the thin, golden disks fried by Mama. Papa gently comforts his weeping daughter by reminding her that life must continue: "Mama isn't here, but we are. We can remember Mama. And we can make latkes, and we can still celebrate Chanukah. That is what Mama would want us to do." Papa's words and adherence to their Jewish traditions—setting out the blue holiday plates, polishing the menorah, listening to the prayers—help Selma realize that Mama lives on in their rituals and memories. Michelle Edwards has penned a sensitive story about a grieving family trying to gather strength after a death. Luminous art by Stacey Schuett captures the emotional nuances of the story, from the little sister's excitement at the approaching holiday to Selma's sorrow. 2004, Candlewick, Ages 5 up.
—Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This is the first Chanukah since Selma's mother died, and she and her younger sister carefully follow all of Mama's traditions as they polish the menorah and tell Papa exactly how the latkes should be made. When they turn out fat, brown, and lumpy instead of light and crisp, Selma can't be brave anymore and begins to cry. After a comforting "Skolnick family hug," Papa and the girls continue their evening with candle-lighting and prayers. The poignant text with touches of humor is nicely matched with warm and richly colored oil paintings. Papa is an especially appealing character; his efforts to be jolly don't keep him from offering heartfelt comfort and love to his daughters when they need it. A touching and uplifting story.-E. M. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The recent death of Selma and Dora's Mama clouds the happy, celebratory mood of Chanukah. Papa, who is cheerfully determined to carry on-with the girls' doubting help-will make Mama's latkes, the highlight of each year's holiday. Each step in the recipe and in getting the house ready with Mama's polished menorah, embroidered tablecloth, and special blue plates reminds Selma of how much she misses Mama and how delicious her latkes smelled and tasted. Sitting down to Papa's lumpy mud pie-looking version at a table set for only three, brings Selma to tears. Consoling hugs and words from her father and younger sister help her continue the tradition of lighting the menorah, celebrating as Mama would have expected. Illustrations in tones of murky green, blue, and tan gouache accentuate the mournful mood and expressions of the characters in this melancholy story set with a 1940's-style background. While the holiday is one of remembrance, mixed themes of death, grief, and festive preparation make this painful story more suitable for the section on death and dying than for the holiday shelf. (Picture book. 4-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763607791
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 959,067
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Edwards is the author-illustrator of many books for children, including CHICKEN MAN, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and the Jackson Friends series. She is also the co-author, with Phyllis Root, of WHAT'S THAT NOISE?, illustrated by Paul Meisel. She says, "I wrote PAPA'S LATKES one very cold Chanukah morning when the house was still filled with that rich Chanukah smell of potatoes, onions, and oil — latkes from the night before."

Stacey Schuett has illustrated many books for children, including PURPLE MOUNTAIN MAJESTIES by Barbara Younger. PAPA'S LATKES is her first book with Candlewick Press. She says, "This is a lovely story, and I wanted the paintings to reflect the love and warmth in the family, despite the pain of missing their mother."

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