Remember the story “This is the House that Jack Built”? Sue Hepker has taken the storytelling principles of that story and applied them to a Jewish story about challah baking, coupled with fun, bright pictures of the inner workings of a Jewish home by illustrator Amy Wummer.
The book begins with the steaming challahs that Bubbe has made, straight out of the oven. Then it takes us back in time to the process of making those challahs, explaining how the yeast frothed the water and sugar that went in the challah that Bubbe made. As the challah ingredients are being assembled, we watch as a child, age three, helps out, spilling sugar and eggs on the counter. Meanwhile, her younger brother throws Cheerios from his high chair, spills food everywhere and screams as his mother tries to clean him up. The kitchen becomes increasingly chaotic, with oil spills, a kids’ ball that lands in the challah bowl and a floor that becomes a mess of sticky food relished only by the family dog.
Meanwhile, adult and child hands create the challah braids, the kitchen is cleaned and the bread bakes in the oven, just in time for Shabbat dinner. “This is the home that is warmed by the oven, that baked the…challah that Bubbe made,” writes Hepker at the end of her book. Her book, a quick, fun read for the two-to-four-year-old Jewish child, describes a typical challah baking experience, one full of chaos, love, intention and tasty results. She includes the recipe for those results on the final page so readers young and old can create their own versions of her Bubbe’s challah.