Koala Chal­lah

  • Review
By – May 16, 2017

Cud­dly ani­mals, here koala bears, will remind you that chal­lah is part of the Shab­bat ser­vice as they deliv­er a sto­ry imbued with deter­mi­na­tion and per­se­ver­ance that proves the pos­i­tive results of these two fine char­ac­ter traits. Koala Lila wants to keep up with her two old­er sis­ters, who star at cre­at­ing euca­lyp­tus can­dles and wine every week. When Lila tries she makes a mess, to her par­ents’ dis­may. They final­ly decide to let her prac­tice mak­ing chal­lah, with the promise that if she is suc­cess­ful this will be her Shab­bat job. From Sun­day to Wednes­day Lila tries and fails. On Thurs­day she has bak­ing suc­cess, but she finds her chal­lah ordi­nary when she wants it to be a spe­cial prod­uct like the ones her sis­ters make. After think­ing about it, Lila adds her family’s favorite food, euca­lyp­tus oil, to the dough. At Shab­bat din­ner they declare it the yum­mi­est bread ever; Koala Chal­lah is born. The charm­ing, fun tale ends.

The illus­tra­tions are hon­est and appeal­ing; the bears’ faces reflect their emo­tions. The secret to Lila’s suc­cess is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the best for humans, as euca­lyp­tus is tox­ic in large amounts. They can love their chal­lah, we can love ours, and we can all love Shabbat.

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

Discussion Questions