Way Too Many Latkes

A Hanukkah in Chelm

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

Faigel makes the best Hanukkah latkes in Chelm, but somehow, this year she’s forgotten how to make them! She sends her husband, Shmuel, to ask the rabbi for help. And in Chelm, the village of fools—oy vey!—this becomes a recipe for disaster!

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Copyright 2017
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2017-08-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV017110
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 470
Features Fast facts, Recipes, and Reviewed


Cleveland Jewish News

“With Chanukah approaching, Faigel suddenly forgets the recipes for latkes. What can she do? Who can she ask? So, her husband, Shmuel, decides to ask the wisest man in the small fictional Eastern European village of Chelm – the rabbi. First, he asks how many potatoes, then how many eggs, then onions. Faigel always made tiny batches of latkes, but following the rabbi’s advice, she made a huge batch. Find out what happens to all the latkes” – Cleveland Jewish News

The Washington Post

“Faigel, a woman living in Chelm — a village where silliness prevails — has forgotten her beloved latke recipe, in which she makes a latke for each neighbor at Hanukkah. Her husband, Shmuel, asks the wisest man they know — the rabbi — how to make the latkes. The rabbi says to use all the potatoes. Faigel is doubtful, but uses them all. Next, she needs to know how many eggs to use, so Shmuel asks the rabbi. ‘Use all the eggs you’ve got,’ he tells him. The process continues with the onions, until… ‘Oy! We have too many latkes! If we eat all the latkes, we’ll get bellyaches up to our eyeballs,’ says Faigel. It’s a fun story with an outlandish theme and a hint of wisdom perfect for a holiday read-aloud.” – The Washington Post

Chicago Jewish Star

“It’s Hanukkah in Chelm but (oy vey!) Faigel, the best latke maker in the village, has forgotten the recipe! Yes: potatoes, onions, eggs-but how many of each? Her husband Shmuel knows just what to do: he’ll ask the rabbi. The rabbi, Faigel counters, knows bupkes about making latkes! but without any other solutions in sight, she tells him to go ahead and consult, ingredient by ingredient. It’s a spirited story that comes out right in the end, with a heartwarming result for the entire village.” – Chicago Jewish Star

Good Reads with Ronna

Detroit Jewish News

“The city of Chelm, ‘Village of Fools,’ is the setting of this Jewish folktale. Everyone who has tasted Faigel’s latkes dreams of them. But she can’t remember how many potatoes, eggs or onions are to be used in the recipe so her husband runs to ask the rabbi for advice: The rabbi says to use all of them. When the latkes are done, they realize they cannot eat them all so the whole village is invited to eat their latkes. A note on Chelm stories is explained at the end of the book. Ages: 4-9.” – Detroit Jewish News

Jewish Journal

“Chelm stories are supposed to be funny, and this one will inspire giggling in any child, particularly if the reader hams up the character voices. We learn that Faigel makes the best latkes in all of Chelm, but unfortunately for everyone else, she makes only enough for herself and Shmuel, her hapless husband. One year, she inexplicably forgets the recipe and her husband must go to the rabbi (‘the wisest man in Chelm’) to ask how many potatoes need to be used. The rabbi tells him to ‘use them all’ without realizing that Shmuel and Faigel’s larder is full. The cycle is repeated with the other ingredients (eggs, onions) and silliness ensues. The comic-style illustrations capture the kitchen mayhem, idealized shtetl life and the over-the-top storyline with amusing flair. Of course, the whole town gets to partake in the deliciousness by the story’s end.” – Jewish Journal

The Jewish Chronicle

“Introduce young readers to Chelm, the traditional village of fools, with Way Too Many Latkes, a Hanukkah in Chelm by Linda Glaser (appetisingly illustrated by Aleksandar Zolotic, KarBen, £6.50). Faigel is making latkes but she cannot remember the recipe. Some careless advice from the rabbi leads her to use every potato, egg and onion she possesses — resulting in a mountain of latkes and a puzzle about how to eat them all up. The joke in this story is built up by repeated fool’s errands, as Faigel sends her husband for advice one ingredient at a time. Children up to age nine will enjoy the escalating latke complications” – The Jewish Chronicle

School Library Journal

“Faigel, the best latke maker in the town of Chelm, has forgotten her recipe on the first night of Hanukkah, so her husband Shmuel goes to ask the wise rabbi for help. The rabbi is so hungry that he tells Shmuel Faigel should use everything—all the potatoes, all the eggs, all the onions—to make her perfect golden latkes. The predictable result is way too many latkes and not enough mouths to eat them, until the whole village is invited ‘to bring one mouth each. On Hanukkah, that’s what mouths are for.’ In spite of a rather thin plot, the use of folkloric phrasing and humorous patter moves the story along, with a few typical Chelmish misunderstandings thrown in for good measure. Digital cartoon illustrations depict an Old World scene with big-eyed expressive characters. VERDICT This story has enough humor and appeal to find a place on most holiday shelves.”—School Library Journal

Association of Jewish Libraries

“In the town of Chelm, where foolish ideas often turn out for the best, Faigel can’t find her latke recipe. She sends her husband, Shmuel, to ask the rabbi for advice. Too many potatoes? No problem. Use them all! Too many eggs? Ditto. Too many onions? Ditto. At the end of this amusing tale, Faigel has made way too many latkes. What to do? Why, share them with everyone in Chelm, of course—until ‘there were just enough mouths and just enough latkes, down to the very last one.’ The expressive artwork by Serbian artist, Aleksandar Zolotic, jumps off the page. He describes his art as ‘digital painting’. The muted greens, browns, and oranges enhance the atmosphere of an idealized shtetl life. Can we ever have too many Hanukkah and/or Chelm stories? Perhaps not. Here you get two for the price of one.”—Association of Jewish Libraries

Publishers Weekly

“Faigel makes the most delicious latkes in her village—but only in tiny batches. Those lucky enough to taste one of them ‘dream about it for the rest of the year.’ Then Faigel forgets her famous recipe, and because she lives in Chelm, the legendary village of fools, the solution is far from simple—and deeply silly. With nonsensical advice from her rabbi (‘Use all the eggs you’ve got’) and acquiescence by her literal-minded husband, Faigel ends up making enough latkes to feed the entire town. Latke makers and their young assistants should easily identify with the muscles and tears involved as Faigel preps mountains of potatoes and onions. Glaser leavens the story with lots of performance-ready, Yiddish-punctuated dialogue (‘The rabbi?” Faigel gripes. “What does he know about making latkes? Bupkes!’), and Zolotic’s characters have a vivid presence and energy reminiscent of animated films.”—Publishers Weekly

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (Univ. of Illinois)

“Glaser (author of Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls, BCCB 3/14) returns for a second visit to Chelm, the village of fools from Jewish folklore; now it’s the first night of Hanukkah and Faigel can’t remember her latke recipe. She knows she uses potatoes, but how many? Her husband Shmuel runs to ask the rabbi for help, and the rabbi—whose stomach is growling—advises Faigel to use all the potatoes; after all, ‘On Hanukkah, that’s what potatoes are for.’ The same goes for eggs and onions, and before long Faigel and Shmuel have more latkes than they can possibly eat. Luckily, the rabbi once again has wisdom to share: ‘There’s no such thing as too many latkes,’ he intones. ‘Just not enough mouths.’ Warmly illustrated in brown and red tones, this tale of Chelm will have viewers giggling as wide-eyed Shmuel runs back and forth between his frazzled wife and the hungry rabbi, offering plenty of opportunities for readaloud performance. The characters and scenes create a world that’s an inviting mix of the cartoonish and realistic, and viewers will want to step inside—especially to share the latke feast with the villagers of Chelm at the end. A note at the end provides additional information on Chelm.—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Jewish Book Council

“The comical plot and dialogue of Way Too Many Latkes fit perfectly into the theme of a Chelm story. This is a delightful book for young readers.”—Jewish Book Council

Kirkus Reviews

“Oy! Only in Chelm could there be such a problem—and such a solution.

Chelm, that beloved but very foolish village of old-time Eastern European Jewry, has a problem as the first day of Hanukkah approaches. Faigel makes the best latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil). But what is the recipe? She cannot remember. Her husband has the answer—or, rather, he knows whom to consult for the answer: the rabbi, who is the wisest man in the entire town. How many potatoes? All of them, says the rabbi. How many eggs? All of them, says the rabbi. How many onions? All of them, says the rabbi. How many mouths to eat all those mounds of deliciousness? All the villagers, says the rabbi. Glaser’s riff on a holiday tradition is told with lots of dialogue and the necessary understatement so important to Chelm tales. Zolotic’s flat, digitally composed illustrations, based on his background in animation, portray expressively bewildered and hungry white Chelmites with googly eyes and ultimately happy faces.

A fun story to share at Hanukkah—especially with the oil in the pan hot and ready for those yummy, crispy, fried holiday treats.”—Kirkus Reviews

Author: Linda Glaser

Illustrator: Aleksandar Zolotic

Aleksandar Zolotic is an award-winning illustrator who lives in Serbia with his family. In addition to illustrating children's books, he has worked on comic books and video games.