Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Review: Who's Got the Etrog? by Jane Kohuth and Elissambura


Forget who has it, what IS it?

Auntie Sanyu builds a sukkah in her Ugandan garden. Curious wildlife—the Warthog, the Lion, the Giraffe, the Elephant, and other animals—come to celebrate the Sukkot holiday. They all want to shake the lulav and smell the etrog, but will selfish Warthog learn to share?

Aha! And what a fun way to learn some new words!

Of course, for anyone in the Jewish community, these aren't new words at all, but we do not have a large Jewish community here. I am always happy to introduce some diversity to both my shelves and my home, and I am especially fond of books that teach without coming across as pedantic.

The wordplay is vivid right from the start: "Auntie Sanyu's garden glowed beneath a milkbowl moon." Each day a different animal comes to visit and add another line to the growing refrain: "She sipped her soup precisely, while Parrot chattered brightly, Lion purred so nicely, and Warthog ate politely." Each time, however, Warthog refuses to let go of the etrog, which begins to wear on the other guests' nerves.

So, what IS an etrog? As the glossary at the end tells us, it is a citrus fruit much like a lemon. In addition to a nice clear glossary, we have a simple explanation of sukkot, and the history of Judaism in Uganda, which I found just as interesting as the book itself.

So, we have the Jewish holiday of sukkot, beautiful metaphors, manners at a meal, sharing, adverbs, rhyming, and the foods and animals of Uganda. I almost wish for a classroom again so that we could spend a week on story extensions! Definitely one to add to the shelves, and to break out for story time next fall.

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