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The Goblins of Knottingham: A History of Challah Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—In the town of Knottingham, there are three little, green, and mean goblins named Knotty, Knotsalot, and Notnow who create mischief by tangling children's hair. Every night the children are miserable as their parents attempt to comb out their messy manes, so together they come up with a plan. Patty Punchitdown, Haley Honeydrizzle, Franklyn Frenchtoast and the others wear hats to protect themselves from the goblins. All except Ryan Raisin, who plops a piece of dough on his head instead. Thinking it's hair, the goblins dive in and get stuck. The children quickly braid the dough tightly so the goblins cannot escape. They threaten to bake them, but when the goblins promise to never again tangle hair, the children release them. The story concludes: "Every Friday since then, the people of Knottingham have made braided, sweet bread called challah to celebrate the end of another tangle free week of school." The text states that the story takes place "long ago," and the bright, whimsical, and expressive illustrations depict castles and towers. However, the children and adults are all dressed in contemporary clothes, attending a typical, modern school. The connection to the traditional rituals and customs of the Jewish Sabbath is the missing ingredient, preventing this challah tale from rising to the top. VERDICT While the author's note claims that the story builds on Judaism's rich tradition of goblin legends, the silly mash-up of Robin Hood, goblins, and Shabbat into a supposed "History of Challah" tale is too far-fetched. Strictly additional.—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
A silly and appealing picture book, this is the story of a classroom filled with children who are plagued daily by three goblins who love to tangle their hair. Finally one day they come up with a way to outwit the goblins and their solution leads to the 'invention' of challah. Full of funny names and alliterative text, this would work well as a read-aloud. The full-page illustrations, whimsically created in water-color pastel shades in a style characteristic of the artist s work in Highlights for Children, have lots of subtle, amusing elements for children to discover when they look at the book on their own. At the end of this bread-centered story, a letter to the children is included by the author, 'Rabbi Zoe', in which she invites them to think about 'what gives challah its power' providing some 'food for thought' about the beauty of Shabbat.
Recommended for ages 4 7. --Mindy Langer, Jewish Book Council