Review: The Babka Sisters

The Babka Sisters

by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Tika and Tata Bobokhidze

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Suzanne Grossman

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The great Babka Bake Off is on when loving sisters Esther and Hester compete to create the best babka for their new neighbor, Sylvester. The girls' relationship is challenged by the contest until Sylvester points out that each babka is the best! Esther has made the best cinnamon babka and Hester has made the best chocolate babka. But whose kugel will be the best, next Shabbat?

Sibling illustrators Tika and Tata Bobokhidze’s vibrant, cheery digital art with hand-drawn textures invites readers into the playful setting while occasional spotlighting brings details into focus. However, children might find the ages of the sisters confusing. They are presented as little girls, but each lives alone and performs adult activities such as baking, handling knives and enjoying wine.

This is a playful read-aloud with lots of short “e” rhyming names; Hester, Esther, Sylvester, Chester and Lester. The quick paced story makes this a great tale to act out while a babka is baking. And of course a delicious babka recipe is included! Yum!

The Jewish content is casual in this book, consisting mainly of baking the traditional babka. The focus shifts briefly when it’s time to celebrate Shabbat with blessings over the candles, challah, and wine.
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Reviewer Suzanne Grossman is happily retired after 30 years as a children’s library media specialist. She had the opportunity to share books, tell stories, and encourage the joy of reading with thousands of children. The moment when a child enters a story, experiences life as a character does and walks through the setting the author has created is magical. She is honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Sydney Taylor Shmooze, working to bring the best of the newest Jewish children’s literature into the lives of young readers. Having the gift of time, she now enjoys writing picture books and sharing them with children. Happy reading everyone!