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Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas

Being part of a Jewish and South Asian Indian family has delicious perks: "Making Indian food that my mom ate as a kid for a Jewish holiday that my dad grew up with--that was a lucky combination." For the first-night-of-Hanukkah meal, a boy looks forward to making dosas--a crispy-on-the-edges, paper-thin South Asian-style crepe--with his mother and his Amma-Amma (maternal grandmother). His one concern is his mischievous toddler sister, Sadie, who climbs up just about anything.

When the family heads to Little India Market for ingredients, the boy knows Sadie will require a careful eye. Her first scaling attempt is "a pyramid of coconut milk," which sends cans rolling. When she refuses to descend, the boy remembers a favorite Hanukkah song which he cleverly personalizes: "I had a little dosa; I made it out of dal," he sings to the tune of "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." With a "big grin" of recognition, Sadie "amazingly... climbed down." Three more times, the boy serenades Sadie before the celebrations commence.

As the family goes to greet their guests, they manage to get locked out. The boy realizes that Sadie's climbing prowess might save the day--but only if he can finish his song and convince Sadie to open the door.

In her back-flap bio, author Pamela Ehrenberg confesses to locking her own family out of the house as a toddler. Ehrenberg enhances her toddler-tale by adding delicious diversity, substituting delectable dosas (recipe included at the book's end) and sambar for traditional latkes and applesauce for this multicultural crew. British artist Anjan Sarkar's bright illustrations add a celebratory feel; he's also careful to include visual reminders of the family's blended cultures throughout. Parents, educators and readers seeking opportunities to expand awareness across multiple cultures will appreciate this tasty start. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon