Starlight Soup, a Sukkot Story

Product Details
$16.95  $15.76
Apples & Honey Press
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.3 X 0.4 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author
Elana Rubinstein is the author of the Saralee Siegal chapter book series, including Once Upon an Apple Cake, A National Jewish Book Award Finalist; Starlight Soup; A Donut in Time; and The Royal Recipe. She is an early childhood educator living in Los Angeles, California

Saralee Siegel is ready for a new holiday challenge following her Rosh Hashanah adventure, Once Upon an Apple Cake (2019).

It is the harvest festival of Sukkot, and Zadie enlists Saralee's help in developing a new recipe for the family restaurant, as Saralee has an amazing talent for discovering and identifying flavors. The sukkah, an outdoor roofless shelter covered in branches and leaves and decorated with the fragrant etrog, a citron, is ready to receive diners during the holiday week.

Saralee sets out a pot of water, and, inspired by the view through the open roof of the sukkah, she sends her nose sniffing into space until she finds the splendid smell of starlight, a scent encompassing all her favorite foods. Magically, the pot simmers and begins to glow like starlight.

When Saralee and her family sample it, they each taste their own favorite soup. Her Starlight Soup is a resounding success, with every diner enjoying a different taste. But then something goes terribly wrong. The tastes linger, grow stronger, and become overwhelming and painful to the tongue. She finds the cure with the help of her best friend, Harold Horowitz, and the famed pickled herring sold at his family's rival restaurant.

Saralee tells her own tale in lively, conversational language, seamlessly weaving in information about the holiday. Her large, multigenerational family is eccentric and loving, proudly celebrating their Jewish religious traditions. Naming conventions and descriptions of activities indicate that all the characters are also Jewish, with Naalchigar's accompanying black-and-white cartoons depicting wide diversity in skin tones.

A touch of creative magic tempered by love and kindness. Welcome back, Saralee. (recipe) (Fiction. 7-10)

- Kirkus Reviews

A girl with a super-sniffer nose, her loving Jewish family who own a restaurant, and her friend whose family own a rival restaurant -- this magical Sukkot tale is pure delight!

Saralee's family has built a wonderful sukkah entwined with leaves and vines and flowers, and they are ready to celebrate the holiday by welcoming diners to their restaurant for joyful feasting. But young Saralee is a bit tired of the usual traditional foods. Standing in the sukkah one evening, under the stars, she decides to use her incredible gift, her super-powerful sense of smell, to capture the scent and taste of starlight and infuse it into a magical soup. When anyone tastes this Starlight Soup, that person experiences their favorite flavor. It's wonderful! It's miraculous! It's . . .

A problem.

Because although Saralee has figured out how to create everyone's favorite taste, she has no idea how to STOP that taste from filling and overwhelming people's mouths!

Only her friend, Harold Horowitz, can help her find the way to counteract the effects of Starlight Soup, with the help of the heirloom recipe for pickled herring sold by the Horowitz family restaurant.

The ins and outs of friendship and how competition affects relationships; the strong ties of loyalty and family; and the muddlesome nature of magic are all explored in an entertaining way that allows the reader to learn without feeling taughts.

The book also incorporates a diverse cast of characters and can be enjoyed by kids of any background. The illustrations support and expand the story moments they depict in a lovely way.

When my own kids were small, it was hard to find quality Sukkot narratives for them that weren't purely informational, particularly at a genuinely engaging early Middle Grade level. This is a very welcome addition to the bookshelf. Recommended for all homes and libraries!

--Bridget Holder, Sydney Taylor Schmooze