Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm

Lin­da Glaser; Alek­san­dar Zolot­ic, illus.

  • Review
By – August 25, 2017

Every Han­nukah, Faigel makes her famous latkes. But one year, on the first night of Han­nukah, she sud­den­ly for­gets the recipe. Her bum­bling hus­band Shmuel decides to ask the Rab­bi for help. As he is the wis­est man around, per­haps he will know how many pota­toes Faigel should use. The Rab­bi, who hap­pens to be very hun­gry that day, instructs them to use all the pota­toes they have because, On Han­nukah, that’s what pota­toes are for.” Shmuel thinks this is very sage advice, and runs back to tell an exas­per­at­ed Faigel who is scram­bling in the kitchen. Shmuel solic­its the Rab­bi’s opin­ion for every latke ingre­di­ent, and he doles out the same advice, which is to use all the ingre­di­ents they’ve got because on Han­nukah, that is what they are for. Frus­trat­ed by Shmuel’s antics and the piles of ingre­di­ents in the kitchen, Faigel peels, chops and fries until each latke is a crispy gold­en mas­ter­piece.” How­ev­er, the out­come is way too many latkes. Faigel, Shmuel and the Rab­bi can­not eat them all by them­selves. The answer, the Rab­bi says, is that they need more mouths. So, they invite the entire vil­lage over to share the Han­nukah treats and there­by solve the problem.

The book con­tains a brief note on the his­to­ry of Chelm sto­ries, explain­ing that Chelm (oth­er­wise known as the vil­lage of fools”) is a fic­tion­al Euro­pean town in Jew­ish folk­lore whose res­i­dents are famous for their ridicu­lous prob­lems and their often equal­ly ridicu­lous solutions.”

The com­i­cal plot and dia­logue of Way Too Many Latkes fit per­fect­ly into the theme of a Chelm sto­ry. This is a delight­ful book for young readers.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

Discussion Questions