Review: The Royal Recipe

The Royal Recipe

by Elana Rubinstein, illustrated by Jennifer Naalchigar

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2023

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus

Saralee Siegel is back again in The Royal Recipe! We last met Saralee with her super nose at Hanukkah, when she traveled back in time to meet her great grandmother, in A Donut in Time.

Now we are back at the Siegel House Restaurant with Saralee and her family. Her grandfather, Zadie owns the restaurant and Saralee assists him in the kitchen.

In this novel the family is getting ready to hold a Purim banquet at Siegel House. Zadie wants everything to be authentic to the historical time of Esther and Mordechai in Shushan, Persia. He asks Saralee to use her special nose to figure out the most genuine hamantaschen recipe she can create.

As Saralee starts sniffing, she feels herself connecting with the Purim story. Then an unusual and very controlling party planner named "Herman" arrives (hint: sounds like "Haman"). A beautiful royal horse appears and later, three jesters. Things are not going according to the plan and some household items are disappearing. The hamantaschen taste terrible and Herman is trying to take Zadie’s attention away from Saralee.

Saralee realizes her nose might have caused some trouble and she works hard to correct things. She is trying to make delicious hamantaschen and send Herman, the horse, and the jesters back in time. Can she succeed and not lose anything else to Shushan? Using the lesson she learns from Esther’s story, Saralee tries to win back Zadie’s attention. The delightful pen and ink drawings of the family illustrate the funny things that happen to everyone in the story as they plan a Purim spiel for their friends and customers.

This story fits all the Sydney Taylor award criteria. The plot includes a little suspense, a good moral lesson, and a fun interpretation of the Purim story. The book includes all the elements of the Purim holiday. It is an easy way for young readers to understand the plot of the Purim story as they enjoy the Siegel family escapades, and fills the niche of easy chapter books for younger elementary grades. This book also includes a delicious recipe for hamantaschen.
Ed. Note: This title was included on the Association of Jewish Libraries Spring 2023 Holiday Highlights list. 

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Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee and co-chair of Women's League Reads. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at