cover image Koala Challah

Koala Challah

Laura Gehl, illus. by Maria Mola. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-5124-2087-6

Lila, a little koala, sees how her older sisters get to show off their eucalyptus-themed Shabbat specialties (Rachel makes eucalyptus oil candles, Naomi makes eucalyptus wine) and yearns to be part of the preparations. But as Mommy gently but firmly explains, her helpfulness can be a hindrance: “Every week we hurry to get ready for Shabbat, and every week you make a mess.” When Lila asks if she can make the challah, Mommy acquiesces—as long as Lila practices all week. Gehl (the Peep and Egg series) sensitively and subtly taps into children’s need to feel capable and appreciated, while reinforcing the importance of grit and high personal standards (Lila decides that her challah must be “better than fine” and adds eucalyptus flavoring). Mola’s detailed floral backgrounds and dense colors can muddy the pictures’ focus and action, but her characters have a winning earnestness, and Lila’s steely determination to prove she can make a contribution shines through her adorable, furry expressions. Ages 4–9. [em]Author’s agent: Erzsi Deak, Hen & Ink Literary. Illustrator’s agency: T2 Children’s Illustrators. (Oct.) [/em]