Young Hillel loves to build houses to play in and uses whatever supplies he can find to indulge in this favorite activity. A huge cardboard box makes a perfect playhouse, and a pile of pillows becomes an excellent make-believe fort. A tree house provides outdoor fun, and even nestling under his father’s talit while they are in synagogue feels cozy and warm as it evokes the feeling of a comfortable home. But every time Hillel tries to snuggle up in his very own house, a holiday seems to interfere with his plans. He can’t light Hanukkah candles safely in a cardboard box and his mother needs to use the pillows for her guests to lean on during the Passover Seder; something prevents him from playing in his personal house at every turn of the calendar page. Having his own house just doesn’t seem to be a workable plan. He is disappointed time and again.
Finally, the holiday of Sukkot arrives and Hillel realizes to his joy that Sukkot is the perfect holiday for house building. He and his father happily build their family sukkah, a temporary hut with a natural roof in which Jews reside during the holiday to commemorate the huts their ancestors built in the desert on their way from slavery to freedom. Hillel can decorate the sukkah, share meals with his family inside its walls, and thoroughly enjoy the delights of the season. The right holiday and the right house come together in a perfect merging of tradition and fun. Sukkot is the ideal holiday for building a house.
This brand new edition of an old favorite has all new color artwork which gives the story a fun, contemporary, humorous twist. The story works well as a joyful read-aloud while preparing for Sukkot or at any time of the year.
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.