My younger brother has one main rule for my nieces, who are 6 and 4 years old – “No head injuries.” Sounds simple enough, until you see one of them launch themselves off the back of the couch. I could see a bit of them in the character of Sadie in Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas, written by Pamela Ehrenberg and illustrated (beautifully and creatively) by Anjan Sarkar.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want my little sister, Sadie, to help us make dosas for Hanukkah,” explains her big brother. “The problem was, she climbed too much.” Onto tables, out of cribs, up stacks of cans at the supermarket, Sadie does like to climb. And luckily so, it turns out. But you’ll have to read the book to know why.
If the title didn’t give it away, Sadie and her family are a Jewish family with Indian heritage. Instead of latkes, they are celebrating the Holiday of Lights with dosas, and there is a recipe for the Indian pancake in the book, as well as a recipe for sambar, a vegetarian lentil stew made with tamarind paste and many other delicious ingredients.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2017), is part of PJ Library, which sends free Jewish children’s books to families with kids from 6 months to 8 years old. B.C. community members can sign up through Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver or Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
PJ Library’s selection committee chose Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas because it “loves how this book celebrates the varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds that make up today’s Jewish community, and encourages each of us to be proud of our individuality.”
The book also offers the opportunity to talk about various holiday customs that cut across Jewish cultures. Sadie wears a dreidel costume for some of the book, the family lights the chanukiyah, there is gelt on the table and, of course, dosas are fried, so there’s that miracle of oil to discuss.