By: Deborah Bodin Cohen
Illustrated by: Sharar Kobera
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2008
Engineer Ari tapped on his friend Jesse’s door and called out to her. “Boker tov...it’s time to build our sukkah.” It was the day after Yom Kippur and it was time to get ready to celebrate Sukkot, but there was a little work to be done before they could celebrate. Jessie thought that they needed Nathaniel because he was the one who was “handy with a saw and hammer.” Just as she said that they spotted him walking up the road with his blue toolbox in hand. He suggested that they could find the wood they needed down by the railway station because there was some leftover wood there that was exactly what they needed. The three engineers happily sorted through the wood. Ari smiled to himself as a butterfly flitted around Jessie and her two boards. Nathaniel was carrying such a pile that when he started to walk his kippah flew off his head.
Among the three of them they somehow managed to build the sukkah frame. It was an accomplishment, but Jessie said, “Now we need branches for the roof and fruit for decorations.” The next day Ari “chug-a-lugged” out of Jaffa Station to collect what was needed. Hadas gave him some branches reminding him that “a sukkah’s roof needs to be thick enough to keep out the rain.” And “...thin enough to see the stars,” said Ari. Aravah cut him some grapevines and Tamar sold him some lulav and an etrog. The first night of their celebration was blissfully happy, but Ari grew sad because he would not be able to celebrate with his new friends, Hadas, Avavah, and Tamar. Would there be any way that Engineer Ari could celebrate with all his friends, both old and new?
This is a delightful tale of how Engineer Ari and his friends build a sukkah in preparation for a very joyous holiday. This fabulously fun tale “chug-a-lugged” right along, mixing a bit of fact with fiction as we travel through the pages. It was an easy and interesting story to introduce the sukkah to a younger child as you begin his or her Jewish education. The cheerfully appealing artwork makes it easy to show children what things like an etrog and a lulav actually look like. In the back of the book you will see a photograph of the first train that “steamed into Jerusalem,” learn a bit about it, and learn more about the lulav.
Quill says: You may wish to consider this book along with “Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride,” which was a Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner. This Sukkot tale is equally chug-a-lug charming!