Little Red Ruthie is headed through the forest to her Bubbe Basha’s for the first night of Hanukkah when, suddenly, a hungry wolf appears and threatens to eat her up. Though terribly frightened, Ruthie wills herself to be as brave as the heroic Maccabees, and tells the wolf that she is too skinny to make a good meal. To her relief, the wolf agrees to eat her after she has fattened up on latkes. Bubbe Basha is not at home when Ruthie arrives, so she gets busy making the latkes all by herself. But the wolf is getting impatient to eat — either latkes or Ruthie. This time Ruthie distracts him — while she continues to fry the latkes — by telling him why oil is important to the story of Hanukkah. Many platefuls of pancakes later, the wolf is so full he can barely make his way back to the forest. When Bubbe Basha comes home, she and Ruthie light the first Hanukkah candle and sit down to dinner, perhaps leaving some to wonder about Ruthie’s mom, home alone. Ruthie’s cheery red coat and boots pop against the icy blue and snowy white of the forest scenes, and the big hairy wolf, with sharp teeth and yellow eyes, though properly menacing, is no match for little Ruthie. A recipe for potato latkes is included.
Susan Kantor was a senior writer/editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a children’s book editor, and a past judge for the National Jewish Book Awards in the illustrated children’s book category. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Museum in New York City, where she leads public and private tours.