Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Roundup #5: Hanukkah Edition

Hanukkah begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 and I thought I would dedicate this week's Saturday Roundup to some lovely holiday books celebrating this eight day Festival of Lights.

Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen, paper engineering by Robert Sabuda
Candlewick Press, 2011, 16 pages
Starting with the temple where the oil lamp burns for 8 nights with just enough oil for one night, Rosen and Sabuda travel through time celebrating all the places where Jews have celebrated Chanukah over time.  The only color on each page is the background and the Chanukah lights int he windows, adding to its effectiveness.  This short video will give you a good sense of this lovely book:

As you can see, the only color on each page is the background and the Chanukah lights int he windows, adding to its effectiveness.  This is a book that will be cherished year after year.  Ages 5+

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Holiday House, 1989, 2014 Anniversary Edition), 32 pages

It's the first night of Hanukkah and Hershel of Ostropol has been walking a long time and decides to stop at the next village.  But he notices that not a single candle in a single menorah is to be seen.  When he asks the Rabbi about this, Hershel is told about the goblins who haunt the old synagogue and who hate Hanukkah.  They blow out Hanukkah candles, break dreidels and throw their potato latkes on the floor.  Not afraid of goblins, Hershel volunteers to clear the goblins out of the synagogue and break their curse.  It will take all eight nights of Hanukkah to do it.  But is Hershel the right man for the task?  Age 5+

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel  by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by Slonim
Scholastic, 2014, 32 pages

"I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel,
A Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel…Perhaps it's fatal"

It's Hanukkah and time for the family to visit Bubbe, but then the cat drops a small dredel on her bagel and, yup, she swallowed it.  So Bubbe begins to swallow more and more traditional Chanukah items to wash down the dreidel.  The rhyme is fun and sure to make readers smile.  Each illustration sets Bubbe in a different work of art (each of which is elaborated in back matter).  Age 4+

Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Hiliday House, 2013, 32 pages

Bubba Brayna is 97 years old and her hearing and eyesight aren't just what they used to be, but that doesn't stop her from making lots and lots of potato latkes for the Rabbi's visit on the first night of Hanukkah.  When the good smell of those latkes reaching sleeping bear, he wakes up hungry and pays Bubba Brayna a visit.  Thinking he is the Rabbi with a mighty big appetite, Bear eats all the latkes.  But after Bear leaves, imagine Bubba Brayna's surprise when the real Rabbi shows up.  Includes a latke recipe.  Ages 4+

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin, a Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
by Martha Seif Simpson, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard
Wisdom Tales, 2014, 32 pages

No sooner does a merchant buy a beautiful dreidel from a peddler, who warns him that the miracle of Hanukkah can't be bought, when a selfish girl insists on having it.  But the dreidel won't spin for her, and was returned.  Nor would it spin for the selfish boy who demanded it next and returned it.  A third child, one who can't even afford the dreidel, merely admires its beauty.  Will it spin for him?  Back matter explains Hanukkah, and what the letters on the dreidel mean, and tells how to play the dreidle game.  Age 5+

Candlelight for Rebecca by Jacqueline Dembar Green
American Girl Publishing, 2009, 96 pages

It's 1914 and in Rebecca's NYC public school class they are making decorations for Christmas, a national holiday according to her teacher.  But Rebecca is Jewish, so is she less American because she doesn't celebrate Christmas?   But, she loves to celebrate Hanukah with her family.  Finding herself torn between having to do the school project, and facing her mother and grandmother's disapproval of her Christmas centerpiece that she is so proud of if she brings it home, how will Rebecca reconcile her dilemma.  Ages 8+

By the Hanukkah Light by Sheldon Oberman, illustrated by Neil Waldman
Highlights Press, 1997, 32 pages

Every year, Rachel and her grandfather clean the Menorah together just before Hanukkah.  On the first night, after the candle is lit, grandpa tells the story of the Maccabbees exactly the way his grandfather told it to him.  Next, he tell the story of the Menorah that belonged to his family, but was left behind when they fled the Nazis.  Later, while grandpa was still an American soldier, he returned to the destroyed home of his family and found the Menorah buried in the ashes.  This is a true miracle that his family celebrates every year.  Age 6+

These are some of my favorite Hanukkah books.  What are your favorites?


  1. Hello Alex, the paper engineering in Chanukah lights is truly amazing, Hanukkah bear and I know an old lady both appeal to me too. Happy Hanukkah, Barbara


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