Saralee Siegel is ready for a new holiday challenge following her Rosh Hashanah adventure, Once Upon an Apple Cake (2019).
It is the harvest festival of Sukkot, and Zadie enlists Saralee’s help in developing a new recipe for the family restaurant, as Saralee has an amazing talent for discovering and identifying flavors. The sukkah, an outdoor roofless shelter covered in branches and leaves and decorated with the fragrant etrog, a citron, is ready to receive diners during the holiday week. Saralee sets out a pot of water, and, inspired by the view through the open roof of the sukkah, she sends her nose sniffing into space until she finds the splendid smell of starlight, a scent encompassing all her favorite foods. Magically, the pot simmers and begins to glow like starlight. When Saralee and her family sample it, they each taste their own favorite soup. Her Starlight Soup is a resounding success, with every diner enjoying a different taste. But then something goes terribly wrong. The tastes linger, grow stronger, and become overwhelming and painful to the tongue. She finds the cure with the help of her best friend, Harold Horowitz, and the famed pickled herring sold at his family’s rival restaurant. Saralee tells her own tale in lively, conversational language, seamlessly weaving in information about the holiday. Her large, multigenerational family is eccentric and loving, proudly celebrating their Jewish religious traditions. Naming conventions and descriptions of activities indicate that all the characters are also Jewish, with Naalchigar’s accompanying black-and-white cartoons depicting wide diversity in skin tones.
A touch of creative magic tempered by love and kindness. Welcome back, Saralee. (recipe) (Fiction. 7-10)