In a Latke Trouble is the fourth installment in Dori Weinstein’s series about the Silver family and the charming, fun, creative way they celebrate Jewish holidays and traditions. This time, the Silver twins, nicknamed YoYo and YaYa based on their Hebrew names of Yoel and Yael, gleefully anticipate Hanukkah. They have formed a club with their schoolmates in which they dare one another to complete a series of challenges. A creative lesson by a marvelous educator who is their “shul school” rabbi, some wise decisions by their parents, and a wholesome, sincere attitude shown by the children themselves help them understand that there are many lessons in the popular holiday that are not apparent at first glance. Ultimately, YoYo and YaYa learn that challenges can be broader than the ones they had anticipated and can include helping others and deepening their understanding of their places in the world.
The story is packed with well-researched information about Hanukkah but focuses most intensely on the broader lessons inherent in its celebration including kindness, thoughtfulness, respect, and rededication to goals, all inspired by what the children have learned about the Maccabees. Humor abounds, intertwining with the deeper lessons learned and resulting in a book that is thoroughly entertaining but also provides more than the standard Hanukkah fare. Middle grade readers will have fun and will also walk away with a renewed appreciation for the holiday.
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.