Author Joanne Levy covers quite a bit of ground in the 160 pages of this high-interest, accessible, middle-grade novel: Jewish holidays and customs, community outreach, social action, antisemitism, racism, homophobia, and even a recipe for the Purim cookie, hamantaschen.
The enthusiastic narrator, Elsie Rose-Levy, is excited about her synagogue’s Purim Party and longs not only to dress up as the beautiful Queen Esther, but also to act strong and fierce like her. When Elsie finds out that the party must be canceled due to financial issues, she comes up with a plan to make the event a fundraiser and invites the whole community. Despite wide support(and Elsie’s many ticket sales), the synagogue is vandalized by unknown forces, prompting yet another cancellation. When community helpers turn up, the party becomes a clean-up and concludes with a dramatic reading of the Book of Esther. Elsie sums up the experience when she says, “I’m not going to let hate get into my heart. Like Queen Esther, I’m going to be strong and brave.”
Both Jewish and non-Jewish readers will be inspired by Elsie’s bravery while learning about Jewish holidays and community support. This book would make a perfect gift for a young Jewish girl.