cover image Hanukkah in Little Havana

Hanukkah in Little Havana

Julie Anna Blank, illus. by Carlos Vélez Aguilera. Kar-Ben, $19.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-7284-4284-6

When the annual December shipment of oranges doesn’t arrive from Nonna and Nonno, this picture book’s young narrator wonders about the missing bounty in this solidly familial portrayal of Sephardic Jewish traditions. Instead of the citrus arriving by post, the child’s family drives all night from chilly Maryland to Miami to spend Hanukkah with grandparents in Little Havana. The relations, portrayed with varying skin tones, spend a smiling eight days picking and juicing oranges, visiting the beach, and eating latkes. When Nonna, snazzy in a crop-top ensemble, makes buñuelos, the giggly kids cover the treats—and themselves—with the “snow” of sifted sugar. Aguilera’s tropically hued illustrations exude the heady joys of a warm climate, holiday home cooking, and unconditional love. An author’s note discusses the story’s roots; a Ladino and Yiddish glossary concludes. Ages 4–9. (Oct.)