Review: I Love You a Latke

I Love You a Latke!

by Joan Holub, illustrated by Allison Black

Scholastic, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Dena Bach

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The rhymes and lively anthropomorphic illustrations of I Love You a Latke invite the child reader to bounce, spin and sing along with the dancing latkes, dreidels, musical instruments, and Hanukkah gifts that are the characters of this activity book. The playful narrative centers less on the traditions of Hanukkah, concentrating instead on the more universal, sensory aspects of the holiday. Even the sense of touch is included through the touch-and feel features. Part of a series of holiday books that includes secular and non-Jewish holidays, most of the specific Hanukkah content in the book (aside from the pun of the title) is contained in Allison's Black’s bold, gold, blue and white illustrations. In Black’s depictions of smiling candles on a Hanukkah menorah, silly-faced dreidels, and Hanukkah gelt, it is notable that the dreidels do not have Hebrew letters on them, making them more like spinning tops than dreidels. The treats include stereotypical foods not specific to Hanukkah, such as challah and matzah ball soup.

The physicality of the narrative is just right for the target age of the youngest readers. The narrative doesn’t exactly explain what a latke is, but that absence should invite the involvement of the adult reader to name and explain the objects portrayed in the illustrations. For those less inclined to explain, it’s a bit of a lost opportunity that the rhymes don’t incorporate the specific Hanukkah objects illustrated, to center the book on the Hanukkah narrative and add to the positive Jewish content that is recommended for a Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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Reviewer Dena Bach studied Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and has an MA/MFA in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children from Simmons University. She has worked as a fine artist, illustrator, art director, writer, bookkeeper, bookseller, and a teacher of children from ages 2 to14. No matter how many children’s books she reads a day, the magical pile of books on her bedside table never seems to get any smaller.