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The Children’s Book Blog Christmas Countdown: The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket

Rebecca Davies

5 276x300 The Children’s Book Blog Christmas Countdown: The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony SnicketFor December I’ve decided to turn the children’s book blog into a sort of literary advent calendar. Every day of the month I’ll be posting a short recommendation of a wintry or Christmassy children’s book to warm your cockles or, in some cases, chill the blood. There’ll be something for readers of all ages, from picture books all the way up to YA. My choice for December 5th is Lemony Snicket’s ‘The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming’.

It’s the last day of Hanukkah today, so I thought I’d pay tribute by recommending this hilarious little picture book by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), who’s best-known for his A Series of Unfortunate Events books. It’s all about a latke – a sort of potato pancake made during Hanukkah – who becomes increasingly frustrated by a selection of anthropomorphic Christmas symbols he encounters, from talking fairy lights to pine trees. These Christmassy characters just don’t get Hanukkah at all, and it really winds the latke up. Hence the screaming.

The illustrations – by Lisa Brown, who I hadn’t heard of before but is really rather good – are as caustically witty as Snicket’s prose. By the end of the book you’ll not only have a pretty good understanding of what Hanukkah is all about, but you’ll also have absorbed the moral of the story, that ‘somewhere in the world there is a place for all of us, whether you are an electric form of decoration, a peppermint-scented sweet, a source of timber or a potato pancake’. So there’s a sort of happy ending. Although not so much for the latke, who is a pancake after all, and pancakes are made to be eaten…

Check back tomorrow to see which book is lurking behind the ‘calendar door’ for December 6th and catch up on my previous recommendations here

Rebecca Davies is a journalist and children’s author. She is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel set in Hackney. You can follow her on Twitter as @TheStoryMonster

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