LATKES AND APPLESAUCE:
A HANUKKAH STORY
Illustrated by Robin Spowart
An ABA Pick of the Lists
Format: Paperback, 32pp.
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pub. Date: September 1992
Hanukkah "a blizzard prevents little Ezra and Rebecca Menashe
from digging up potatoes and picking apples. Instead of latkes
and applesauce, they must celebrate with soup, which they share
with a starving kitten and dog that come crying at their door.
Such generosity pays off when the dog digs up potatoes in the
snow and the kitten leads Papa up into the branches of the apple
tree to discover some fruit clinging to the boughs."
Bulletin of the Center for
How I came to write this book
Years ago, I came upon a wonderful
essay by Cynthia Ozick about the importance of the holiday of
Hanukkah. Her excitement inspired me to try writing about the
holiday too. Until then, I'd never written any story about
Jewish life; I was too intimidated. I had very little Jewish
education as a girl, and I thought I needed to be a sage with a
long, white beard to contribute to our literature. Happily,
doing research about the holiday and reading a lot of Yiddish
stories calmed me down and gave me more confidence. I was
particularly fascinated by the rabbinic injunction that on
Hanukkah we must not mourn or fast. This is what gave me the
Judaic theme of the story; my love for cats and dogs and latkes
helped me do the rest! In writing LATKES AND APPLESAUCE I
discovered my Jewish "voice" for the first time. It is highly
influenced by Sholem Aleichem, whose stories I treasure. The
character of Mr. Menashe was inspired by a tailor named Shmuel,
who appears in one of my favorite books, NUMBER OUR DAYS, by
"What makes Fran Manushkin's simple
tale work so well is its scope. To paraphrase Menashe the tailor
from LATKES AND APPLESAUCE, every word of a story should fit as
well as a glove. When it happens, it is more than a story. It's
a little bit of a miracle."
The New York Times Book Review
"Written in evocative
Yiddish-inflected language, this is a pleasing addition to the
holiday bookshelf. Spowart's soft, blurred pastels give the
story an added sense of warmth and security. Included are an
afterword on the story of Hanukkah, a latke recipe and
instructions on how to play dreidel."
"This gentle story is well served
by Spowart's earth-toned chalk illustrations that depict the
family in rounded shapes with an economy of detail."
Here are a few original sketches
that Robin Spowart did for this book
School Library Journal
as well as what the
finished art looks like.
Click the thumbnails for a closer view of each.