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.