cover image Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express

Deborah Bodin Cohen, illus. by Shahar Kober, Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-5126-9

The team behind Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride (2008) has a new adventure in honor of Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival. The setting is still 1892 Israel, and it's Ari's turn to make the run along the new tracks connecting Jaffa to Jerusalem. Ari greets his friends along the route and collects items to decorate his family's sukkah (ceremonial booth), but back home Ari feels farklempt: "On Sukkot we welcome our friends to our sukkah," he says, "but our new friends up and down the tracks live too far away." Luckily, his co-engineers have an idea to take Sukkah on the road. Sukkot certainly deserves a bigger place on shelves dominated by picture books on Passover and Hanukkah, but this story's premise is far slighter than the previous book, making the bluntness of Cohen's writing more apparent. And while Kober's drawings have lost none of their geniality, they lack the sense of place and history that gave the first book its distinctive flavor. A brief afterword gives some history on the railway, but those looking for additional information on Sukkot will have to turn elsewhere. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)