Shanghai Sukkah

by Heidi Smith Hyde

Other authorsJing Jing Tsong (Illustrator)
Book, 2015



Call number

E 242 HYD



Kar-Ben Publishing ® (2015), 32 pages


Fleeing the Holocaust in Europe, Marcus moves with his family from Berlin to Shanghai, where he doubts this unfamiliar city will ever feel like home. But with help from his new friend Liang, and the answers to a rabbi's riddle, Marcus sets out to build a unique sukkah in time for the harvest festival of Sukkot.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When Marcus and his family must leave Berlin in the years before World War II, the young Jewish boy mourns the loss of his home, and worries that he won't like his new life in Shanghai, where his family is headed. Although they are poor in this new place, and living in a crowded apartment building,
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Marcus soon adjusts, going to a newly established yeshiva, and making new friends. Amongst these is Liang, a young Chinese boy who aids Marcus and his Jewish peers, when they decide to build a Sukkah on the roof of their apartment building. Liang invited Marcus to join him in the local celebration of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, and gives him a riddle - "What adds light and warmth, even though you can't see it?" - the solution of which (friendship) proves what is truly valuable, and makes the Shanghai Sukkah the most beautiful Marcus has ever seen...

I found myself tearing up as I read the conclusion of author Heidi Smith Hyde's story in Shanghai Sukkah, which explores the power of friendship across cultural and religious lines. Although aware of the refugee community that settled in Shanghai before and during World War II - Ed Young mentions how his family befriended and took in a Jewish refugee couple in his autobiographical The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China - this is the first story I have read that centers that experience. Author Heidi Smith Hyde, whose historical Hannukah tale, Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue, was set in Colonial Massachusetts, seems to have a passion for exploring lesser-known chapters of the Jewish experience. I'm so glad she penned Shanghai Sukkah, as it is a poignant and ultimately heartwarming tale, highlighting an aspect of history not always explored in American children's books. The accompanying artwork from Jing Jing Tsong is colorful and engaging, and a two-page afterword, complete with photographs, gives more information about the Jewish community in Shanghai. Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories featuring Jewish refugees in the WWII era, or the holidays of Sukkot and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Also recommended to anyone seeking stories about the beauty of cross-cultural friendship.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
What a wonderful friendship story! This is a lovely book, and perfect for readers looking for a good friendship story. It’s also a good introduction to Holocaust studies. One of the two main characters, Marcus, and his parents are among those who moved from Berlin/Nazi occupied Europe to Shanghai
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in order to save their lives. The other main character is a Chinese boy named Liang, who becomes good friends with Marcus. Via the story there is information about Sukkot and about the Moon Festival, two different cultural ways to celebrate the harvest season.

I knew the answer to the riddle right away, and I think many other readers will too, even some of the young listeners. It’s a great riddle and the riddles are a wonderful tradition.

The illustrations are lovely. In the illustrator bio section, it says: “Her technique, which layers color and texture, is influenced by her experiences working in traditional stone lithography and monoprints.” I think the art is beautiful.

There are two pages at the end with a historical note and photos, giving more information about Jewish refugees in Shanghai in the late 1930s-early 1940s.

4-1/2 stars
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Original language


Physical description

11 inches


1467734756 / 9781467734752

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