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Library : Book Reviews > The Flying Latke

The Flying Latke
Written by Arthur Yorinks
Art by William Steig
Photo Illustrations by Paul Colin & Arthur Yorinks

Review by: Christina Mark

     This is a hilarious story that really puts the "fun" in dysfunctional. This story as told by a young boy, Danny, is about a miracle that happened to his family one year on Chanukah. The story opens with Danny explaining to the reader that his family is completely nuts. Totally meshugge! He explains how one year his mother had the whole family over to celebrate the first night of Chanukah--all of his aunts, uncles and cousins came. When his family gets together arguments always erupt and this night is no different. Before they even begin to eat, Uncle Izzy and Uncle Shecky begin to argue about whether the car that cut them off earlier was a Buick or a Ford. As Shecky tries to make a point, he shakes a pickle at Uncle Izzy. Well, the pickle slips out of his hand and hits Izzy in the forehead. Then it happens! A whole food fight breaks out and before anyone can stop him, Uncle Izzy picks up one of the latkes and flicks it at Uncle Shecky. It misses Uncle Shecky and flies out the window. After the dinner has been wrecked everyone tries to cool off and they decide to calm down and watch t.v. and enjoy the last few remaining latkes. As they are watching television, the program is interrupted due to a special news bulletin about a siting of a U.F.O. When the footage comes on, the U.F.O. is none other than the latke that flew out the window! When there are threats of the air force shooting down the "U.F.O.", Danny's dad calls the air force base to explain what happened. Naturally, the colonel thinks that this is a prank phone call. Later an F.B.I. agent comes to the house and talks to Uncle Izzy. Before you know it, the house was being swarmed by reporters, onlookers and Hollywood producers until the family is trapped and forced to spend the whole 8 days of Chanukah together. Danny observes one small miracle--the plate of latkes that should have lasted the family one night lasts for 8 nights and the family who normally fought like cats and dogs didn't argue or hardly complain at all. But that isn't the biggest miracle to happen. On the last night of Chanukah, the flying latke flies back into the window and lands smack on the platter. As the family looked on in amazement, Uncle Izzy quietly admits that maybe the car was a Buick. Uncle Izzy and Uncle Shecky hug and everyone is happy.
This tongue-and-cheek book is a fun book for kids. After all who doesn't have an "Uncle Izzy" in their family? But this shows that even in families that tend to argue at large family gatherings, the love is always there and keeps the family coming back together year after year. The holidays are the times of the year that we can really let one another know that we care even if it means (as Uncle Izzy realized) that sometimes we have to admit to being wrong.
One of the best things about this book is the illustrations. There is a huge photo array of various people (including well-known author and illustrators William Steig and Maurice Sendak) portraying the different family members against a back drop of William Steig's illustrations. The inclusion of photos help make this story even more humorous. It really captures the facial expressions that help tell the story. While this is not your typical book on Chanukah, it is a fun one to read and kids really enjoy the latke-U.F.O. mix-up, while parents are entertained by the all too familiar family squabbles. I recommend this book for ages 4 and up.

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