In this humorous yet confusing modern tale, Israeli Farmer Kobi has invited a guest to dinner for the second night of Hanukkah. Her name is Polly, and the animals on the farm are hoping that she and Farmer Kobi will be a perfect match. They all join in to help him get ready, including polishing the menorah and choosing his outfit, but things do not go well. Polly cannot understand what the geese, goats, sheep, and donkey are doing in the house, even after Farmer Kobi explains, “I wanted them to meet you.” The visit ends before dinner begins, with Polly storming out the door, much to the animals’ chagrin. “‘Her name was Polly Ester—she was a faaake,’ baaed the sheep.” The good news is that this story has a happy ending. The bad news is that this tale has almost nothing to do with Hanukkah, other than to provide a contrivance for Farmer Kobi to ask Polly over for dinner. Even the endnotes fail to mention Hanukkah, providing instead a discussion of the Jewish values of “Compassion for Animals” and “Welcoming Guests.” VERDICT If only the title were Farmer’s Kobi’s Perfect Match, it might have been a better match for young readers.
-—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Fans of the bestselling Doreen Cronin-Betsy Lewin farm animal escapades will click immediately with this silly, joyous, warm, funny, holiday tale. The plot which searches for the right mate for the farmer does not need Hanukkah to succeed, but the combination gives a refreshing take on this over published celebration.
–AJL Reviews, Ellen G. Cole, Temple Isaiah
An Israeli farmer’s menagerie proves to be both a hindrance and an asset when making the perfect romantic match. When Farmer Kobi invites Polly for a date on the second night of Hanukkah, Donkey and the geese, goats, and sheep help him prepare. They put out the candles, dreidel, and gelt, suggest his outfit, and are right behind him when he answers the door. Kobi leaves Polly in the living room with his “family” while he finishes up in the kitchen with his Israeli-style Hanukkah menu of baba ghanouj, falafel, latkes with applesauce and sour cream, and limonana. But snooty Polly can’t bear the animals’ indoor presence and finally leaves in a huff. “If I wanted to be with animals, I’d go to the zoo!” Ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the friendly sincerity of Kobi and his animals, while dialogue infused with animal sounds adds to the drollery. “She was definitely NOT Farmer Kobi’s perfect maaatch,’ maaed the goats…. she was a faaake,’ baaed the sheep.” And when Ruthie knocks on the door a few minutes later, needing help with a flat tire, Kobi’s hospitality as supported by his exuberant animal family is definitely appreciated and perfectly matched by Ruthie’s own farm animals, who wait in her truck. A short illustrated glossary and a suggested discussion guide on Jewish values of “Compassion for Animals” and “Welcoming Guests” round out this romp. Though Hanukkah takes something of a back seat, this funny, friendly tale is a worthy addition to the holiday shelves. (Picture book. 3-6)
Once upon a time in modern Israel, there lived a handsome farmer named Kobi. He has an impressive spread of land in the moshav (a cooperative farming community) and doting animal friends, yet he yearns to find his perfect match. Farmer Kobi and the animals have high hopes for their Hanukkah dinner guest, but fashionista Polly is not cut out for a life in which animals eagerly involve themselves in everything from serving food to handing out Hanukkah song sheets ( Shouldn t you animals be outside chasing things? she sneers). This being a rom-com, however, true love is waiting in the wings. There s a surfeit of groan-worthy animal punning ( Her name was Polly Ester she was a faaake, baaed the sheep ), but the scenes between Polly and the animals have an assured comic rhythm, and Decker s stylish, editorial watercolors handle the anthropomorphic interspecies humor with aplomb. Ages 4 8. (Aug.)
One of the introductory titles from Apples & Honey Press, a new imprint of Behrman House and Gefen Publishing House, this is a sweet story about Farmer Kobi, who is kind and hard-working but clueless when it comes to finding a suitable match. When Kobi invites Polly to his farm for a special Hanukkah dinner, his equally kind and caring animals do their best to make her feel welcome. Polly is horrified that animals are allowed to live in the house. She finally flees, slamming the door on her way out and leaving Kobi completely bewildered. As fate would have it, Ruthie, a young woman with a friendly smile, soon knocks on the door asking to use the phone. She is invited to dinner — along with her own truckful of animals — and it is quickly clear that Kobi and Ruthie are a perfect match. Some of the illustrations, all lively and expressive, also incorporate Hebrew words, which are fun to find. A note at the end explains the Jewish values of compassion for animals (tza’ar ba’alei chayyim) and welcoming guests (hachnasat orchim) as well as suggestions for questions to stimulate conversation with children.
Recommended for ages 4 – 8.
–Susan Kantor, Jewish Book Council
In 2016, “Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match” became a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, was a 2016 Winner of the Church and Synagogue Library Association Outstanding Children’s Literature Award, was listed as a 2016 top 100 book by the Bureau of Education and Research and featured in the “2016 Winners!” program, put on by Judy Freeman, an award-winning children’s literature consultant. The book also made it onto the Midwest Book Review, Reviewer’s Choice page, was named one of “The Best Jewish Books of the Season,” by The Connecticut Jewish Ledger and was chosen as one of “The 5 Best New Hanukkah Books for Children,” by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Farmer Kobi’s well-mannered goats, donkey and sheep play host to Polly, Kobi’s Chanukah guest, giving her a gracious welcome. But when Polly isn’t sure animals belong in a house, what will happen next? Find out with laugh-out-loud pictures and puns that are sure to entertain all readers. As donkey says: Hee-Haw-Yahoo!
Karen Rostoker-Gruber’s recent book, “Maddie the Mitzvah Clown,” published by Apples and Honey Press, was a PJ Library selection in 2017, and “The Family and Frog Haggadah,” published by Behrman House, was mentioned in the NY Times. Her new book coming out from KarBen in 2020, is called “Happy Birthday to the Trees.”