Archive for the ‘Jewish Holidays’ Category

Look around, just look around! Hamaavir sheinah meieinai, ut’numah meiafapai/ Who removes sleep from the eyes, slumber from the eyelids

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.

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 We are on the ninth blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:

“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who removes sleep from the eyes, slumber from the eyelids.”

Passover begins in one week, on the evening of Monday, April 14 with the first Seder. This blessing is such an interesting way to begin the Passover season. Because I am always a bit stressed out as I prepare my home for the Seder we host every year, I tend to get lost in all the details of writing our Haggadah, planning the menu, figuring out how the plagues are going to be presented, and of course, who we are inviting and who is coming. I am reading tons of material to make this year’s Seder different from last year’s. I am blinded by the amount of effort that goes into all of this.

Reading this blessing reminds me that I must not go through this with my eyes closed! In fact, I must remember this Bible story:

“Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of Adonai appeared to him in a blaze of fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up? When Adonai saw that he had turned aside, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” And God said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground…” (Exodus 3:1-5)  

What made Moses notice the bush in the first place? Then, once noticed, look deeper to see that the bush was burning, yet not consumed? Moses’ eyes were clearly wide open! How many things might we be missing in a day as we drive to work, rush through our daily tasks, and hurry to get home? It is spring (finally!) here on the east coast – the trees are blooming, the birds are singing. Let’s thank God for eyes that can see and stop and take some time to notice the beautiful world around us.

Happy Reading and Happy Passover!

Kathy B.


SeeWhaleIf You Want to See a Whale by Julie Folgliano. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. ©2013. Roaring Brook Press. Ages 3-8.  In this beautiful book, children will learn about all the things they should not see while searching for a whale. Oh, but during that search, there is so much to look at while you wait…and wait…and wait…



The King of Little Things by Bill Lepp. Illustrated by David T. Wenzel. ©2013. Peachtree Publishers. Ages 4-8.  Have you ever heard about “the little things”?  How important they are? How you need to pay attention to them? In this story, a very big king thought he could overlook the little things and learned a very big lesson.


manviolinThe Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson. Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. ©2013. Annick Press, Ltd. Ages 4-8. Dylan heard the music playing in the train station, and he was transformed. He wanted to stop and listen, but his mother was in a hurry. They rushed to meet their train, they rushed to do their chores, they rushed all through their day, as the music continued to play in Dylan’s head.  When Dylan heard the music again, on the radio, he grabbed his mother from the kitchen and made her listen—to Joshua Bell playing beautiful music on his Stradivarius violin. Based on a true story.



The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Illustrated by Robert Lawson. ©1936. Grosset & Dunlap. Ages 4-10. The classic story about a friendly bull who does not want to fight anyone, he just wants to sit—quietly and peacefully—under his favorite tree and smell the flowers all day long.


ZoomZoom Written and illustrated by Istvan Banyai. ©1998. Puffin. Ages 4-9. Look at the first picture, and what do you see? A rooster on a farm, so this is a book about a farm! Better keep zooming…As with all things in life, how you see something is all about perspective.



©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and All rights reserved.

A Thanksgivukkah Book List

Books used in this review are from my personal library, were provided as review copies by the publisher or come from my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.

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Although I am not fond of this Hanukkah + Thanksgiving = “Thansgivukkah” idea, the fact is it has infiltrated the Jewish world like a virus. T-shirts, Turkey Menorahs, special holiday recipes and crafts abound! So, while my family and I will be celebrating the holidays as separately as we can, I am succumbing to the desire to provide some additional information for those that want it. Hence this list of books compiled at the behest of Heidi Estrin, friend, Librarian extraordinaire, and President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, who has an outstanding list on Facebook.

I have not, as yet, found a “Thanksgivukkah” title – nor will we need one for another 80,000 years – so we will have to satisfy ourselves with what we have. Below, please find a list of the books I have recommended for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah over the past few years:


adamevesunsetAdam & Eve’s First Sunset: God’s New Day. Written by Sandy Sasso Eisendberg. Illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg. Jewish Lights Publishing, ©2003. Ages 6-10. On their first day in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve notice that the sun is moving down in the sky. Try as they might, nothing they can do – neither praise nor shouting – will stop the sun from setting and disappearing. Even though God teaches them to create fire, they spend the night cold, afraid and restless. When the sun comes up the next morning, they realize that day and night are part of God’s creation, for which they are very thankful.

All of Me!

All of Me! A Book of Thanks. Written and illustrated by Molly Bang. Scholastic, Inc., ©2009. Ages 3-7. This is the perfect book to introduce young children to thanking God for the miracle of the human body and all its functions. Using charming, bright illustrations and simple text, it celebrates the head to toe, inside and outside marvel that is each and every one of us.

onefeastmouseOne is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale. Written by Judy Cox. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, ©2008. Ages 4-8. After Thanksgiving dinner, when everyone is resting after the feast, Mouse sneaks out to find a little something. He spies a pea, a perfect dinner for a little mouse, but then he sees a cranberry, an olive, a carrot, mashed potatoes…sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach and can lead us into big trouble!

splattySplat Says Thank You! Written and illustrated by Rob Scotton. HarperCollins Publishers, ©2012. Ages 3-8. Splat the Cat’s friend, Seymour the Mouse, is very sick with spots all over his body. To make Seymour smile, Splat creates a Friendship Book filled with pictures and memories of all the times Seymour has helped Splat. It is Splat’s way of saying “Thank You” to Seymour for being “my smallest friend and my biggest.”


The Table Where Rich People Sit By Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Aladdin Paperbacks, © 1994. Ages 4-8. A young girl wants to prove to her parents that the family is poor, until they show her that money may not be everything that makes a family rich.


 Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Matt Faulkner. © 2002, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-10. “Pick up your pen. Change the world.” That is what Sarah Hale did, and because she did, we celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  It took this strong, dynamic woman over 38 years to get an American president to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. This is the remarkable story of how she did it.

towncountrymouseTown Mouse, Country Mouse By Jan Brett. Illustrated by Jan Brett. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, © 1994. Ages 4-8. The classic fable with the moral: Better poor and peaceful than rich and fearful.



chanukahlightChanukah Lights by Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Robert Sabuda. © 2011, Candlewick Press. Ages 6-Adult. Winner of the 2012 Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards (the Jewish equivalent of the Caldecott Honor), this marvel of pop-up engineering takes the reader on a 2000 year tour through Jewish history. From the Temple in Jerusalem where Hanukkah began, across deserts, over oceans, into shtetls and onto kibbutz farm land, each two page spread is an enriching and engaging exploration of how the Hanukkah lights have always been a beacon of hope for the Jewish people.

borisstellaBoris and Stella and the Perfect Gift written and illustrated by Dara Goldman. © 2013 Sleeping Bear Press. Ages 5-9. Boris and Stella love each other very much. So at Christmas time, Boris wants to give Stella something beautiful for her Christmas tree. At Hanukkah, Stella wants to give Boris the most exquisite driedel for his collection. When the time comes to exchange gifts, however, they realize how little gifts matter and how much they really do love each other. A lovely interfaith rendition of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.”

Harvest of LightHarvest of Light by Alison Ofanansky. Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern. © 2008 Kar-Ben Publishing. Ages 4-9.  Imagine gathering the olives that will make the oil to be used to light your Hanukkah menorah. In this wonderful picture book, we once again join the Israeli family as they take us step-by-step through the process of harvesting the olives from the trees, sorting them, cleaning them and taking them to the press to be made into olive oil for their food and fuel.

HershelandhanukkahgoblinsHershel and the Hanukkah Goblins By Eric Kimmel. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Holiday House,  ©1985. Ages 5-9. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the one book I would want to have with me. I read this book every Hanukkah, to children and adults alike, as the story of Hershel outwitting the King of the Goblins and winning back Hanukkah for a poor town is just that good.

hanukkahbearHanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel. Illustrated by Wohnoutka. Holiday House, ©2013. Ages 5-9. In this shortened, re-illustrated version of Kimmel’s Chanukah Guest, we still find the near-sighted, hard-of-hearing Bubbe mistaking a bear for her rabbi and cooking up her world famous latkes, lighting the menorah and playing driedel with him. All the charm and hilarity of the story, fortunately, was left intact.

dinoschanukahHow Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? By Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. Scholastic, Inc., ©2012. Ages 3-8.  The How Do Dinosaurs…series is among my favorites, as they provide parents and children with a variety of laughable situations to review proper behavior. Yolen and Teague’s newest book once again uses their rowdy dinosaurs to demonstrate the appropriate form-this time of Chanukah conduct.

mytwoholidaysMy Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story By Danielle Novack. Illustrated by Phyllis Harris. Scholastic, Inc., ©2010. Ages 3-8. As Sam listens to his classmates, he learns that they all celebrate just one holiday – Christmas or Hanukkah—while he and his family celebrate two – Christmas AND Hanukkah. He is embarrassed to tell this to his friends, until he talks to his mother. She explains that their celebrations are “one of the things that makes their family special.”


Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah by Jamie Korngold. Illustrated by Julie Fortenberry. © 2013 Kar-Ben Publishing. Ages 3-8. What happens when you spend days making a Marvelous Hanukkah Menorah, but smash it when you run to show it to your mom? Well, if you are Sadie, you come up with a wonderful new tradition for your family! A beautifully illustrated, charmingly told story of turning heartbreak into delight.

Snowsnowdaymouse Day for MouseBy Judy Cox. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, ©2012. Ages 3-8. Mouse is back (One is a Feast for Mouse) and excited that snow is falling. A snow day has been declared, so there is no school. Mom is baking cookies, and Mouse is picking up the crumbs when Mom gets out the broom and sweeps him out the door with Cat! Fortunately, three kind-hearted birds protect Mouse from Cat and help him enjoy the time outside. Mouse repays their kindness with some generosity of his own.


 ©2013 Kathy Bloomfield and All rights reserved.

Book Review | Gershon’s Monster
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 5

Illustrated by John J. Muth © 2000, Scholastic, Inc. For the most part, we try to be on our best behavior throughout the year. We remember to say please and thank you. We speak kindly of and to others. We tell the truth. Of course, everyone makes an occasional mistake, and when we do we [...]

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Book Review | Sukkot Treasure Hunt
by Allison Ofanansky

Score: 3

Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern © 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing. How much fun would it be to take the children on a hike and look for and pick the willow, myrtle and palm branch for your very own lulav? What would it be like to pick bay leaves for your soup pot, grapes or dates for your [...]

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Book Review | Greater than Gold and Silver
by Rav Naftali Ehrmann

Score: 3

Adapted and Illustrated by Chedvah Rubin © 2009, Feldheim Publishers This beautiful story reveals, the true meaning, and consequences, of performing a mitvah with real intention or kavanah.  Reb Itzik is a poor peddler who loves Sukkot and above all observing the mitvah of having a perfect etrog during the holiday. When one year he [...]

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