Encouraging children to cleverly play with language while simultaneously teaching about Shabbat is a definite win-win. This laugh-out-loud picture book features Clarence, a hapless but charming raccoon, who wants to bake a delicious challah and serve it to his friends at a festive Friday night meal. The only problem is that Clarence keeps mixing up the words in his recipe. He wants to buy flour but comes home with a flower. He brings home soil instead of oil and a bunny instead of honey. Comical error follows comical error accompanied by the hilariously rueful commentary of an unseen narrator as the week progresses and Shabbat looms. Will Clarence bake his delicious challah in time for Shabbat in spite of his many mix-ups? If he’s creative enough, he may be able to do it and he certainly has a very creative approach. Clarence’s solution to his problem results in a Shabbat meal with all the perfect elements in place. This delightful short story is fabulous, flour-filled fun!
The colorful illustrations echo the humor of the text. Particular attention must be paid to the illustration of the beast who replaces the yeast, with the sharp teeth which poke out of his smiling face and his priceless purple scribbly hair.
This story is recommended for parents and children who want to bake some fun into their shared reading experience.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.