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Starlight Soup, A Sukkot Story

Jennifer Naalchigar
Searching for a new recipe to welcome Sukkot guests to her family's restaurant, Saralee uses her super-nose to smell her way to the stars. But her magical Starlight Soup turns out to be a taste-bud disaster—now what? Welcome back, Saralee! --Kirkus Reviews<
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In this second book about Saralee Siegel, the girl with the superpower smell, Saralee decides to create a new recipe for Sukkot--out of starlight, the secret ingredient that magically makes the soup taste just like each person's favorite soup in the world. But there's a problem with the magic soup that only the magic of friendship can fix.

About the Author

ELANA RUBINSTEIN reaches preschool in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she lives. This is her second book.

About the Illustrator

JENNIFER NAALCHIGAR has been drawing ever since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in Hertfordshire, England.


Kirkus Reviews

Saralee Siegel is ready for a new holiday challenge following her Rosh Hashanah adventure, Once Upon an Apple Cake (2019).

It is the harvest festival of Sukkot, and Zadie enlists Saralee’s help in developing a new recipe for the family restaurant, as Saralee has an amazing talent for discovering and identifying flavors. The sukkah, an outdoor roofless shelter covered in branches and leaves and decorated with the fragrant etrog, a citron, is ready to receive diners during the holiday week.

Saralee sets out a pot of water, and, inspired by the view through the open roof of the sukkah, she sends her nose sniffing into space until she finds the splendid smell of starlight, a scent encompassing all her favorite foods. Magically, the pot simmers and begins to glow like starlight.

When Saralee and her family sample it, they each taste their own favorite soup. Her Starlight Soup is a resounding success, with every diner enjoying a different taste. But then something goes terribly wrong. The tastes linger, grow stronger, and become overwhelming and painful to the tongue. She finds the cure with the help of her best friend, Harold Horowitz, and the famed pickled herring sold at his family’s rival restaurant.

Saralee tells her own tale in lively, conversational language, seamlessly weaving in information about the holiday. Her large, multigenerational family is eccentric and loving, proudly celebrating their Jewish religious traditions. Naming conventions and descriptions of activities indicate that all the characters are also Jewish, with Naalchigar’s accompanying black-and-white cartoons depicting wide diversity in skin tones.

A touch of creative magic tempered by love and kindness. Welcome back, Saralee. (recipe) (Fiction. 7-10)

Sydney Taylor Schmooze
A girl with a super-sniffer nose, her loving Jewish family who own a restaurant, and her friend whose family own a rival restaurant -- this magical Sukkot tale is pure delight!
Saralee's family has build a wonderful sukkah entwined with leaves and vines and flowers, and they are ready to celebrate the holiday by welcoming diners to their restaurant for joyful feasting. But young Saralee is a bit tired of the usual traditional foods. Standing in the sukkah one evening, under the stars, she decides to use her incredible gift, her super-powerful sense of smell, to capture the scent and taste of starlight and infuse it into a magical soup. When anyone tastes this Starlight Soup, that person experiences their favorite flavor. It's wonderful! It's miraculous! It's . . .
A problem.
Because although Saralee has figured out how to create everyone's favorite taste, she has no idea how to STOP that taste from filling and overwhelming people's mouths!
Only her friend, Harold Horowitz, can help her find the way to counteract the effects of Starlight Soup, with the help of the heirloom recipe for pickled herring sold by the Horowitz family restaurant.
The ins and outs of friendship and how competition affects relationships; the strong ties of loyalty and family; and the muddlesome nature of magic are all explored in an entertaining way that allows the reader to learn without feeling taughts.
The book also incorporates a diverse cast of characters and can be enjoyed by kids of any background. The illustrations support and expand the story moments they depict in a lovely way.
When my own kids were small, it was hard to find quality Sukkot narrratives for them that weren't purely informational, particularly at a genuinely engaging early Middle Grade level. This is a very welcome addition to the bookshelf. Recommended for all homes and libraries!              --Bridget Holder