Archive for the ‘Hanukkah’ Category
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.
. ________________________________________________________________ .
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:
Adam & 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! 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.
One 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!
Splat 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.
Town 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.
Chanukah 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.
Boris 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 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.
Hershel 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.
Hanukkah 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.
How 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.
My 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.
Snow 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 forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.
Having selected my three top choices for the best Jewish children’s books for 2010: The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Hereville and Life, After, I am feeling a bit guilty about the books I left on the table. Those books that were also great but a choice had to be made, so some excellent books are just sitting here. My list of good Jewish books for 2010 is quite long. In fact, I will add many 2010 books to the forwordsbooks Catalog of Books. Nevertheless, I will follow my rule and go with the standouts – those books I remember and will recommend from the stacks of books I read this year – in choosing titles for my “pretty close to best” list. In keeping with models I have seen elsewhere, I have chosen an additional seven titles, making my list a nice round 10 for 2010.
Jewish Books for Younger Readers (Picture Books)
My problem is I rarely read a children’s picture book I don’t like in some way (unless there is some human-animal conversation in a non-fantasy based story book.) I will admit, however, to being bored reading the same themes in many Jewish picture books, particularly Jewish holidays, Bible stories and the Jewish immigrant experience. That being said, even those subjects can be brought to life in new and creative ways by a talented author and/or illustrator.
After The Rooster Prince of Breslov, which I will continue to say blew me out of the water, there were three additional books for younger readers that really stood out for me this year:
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola. Ages 5-10. ©2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ~ from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus ~ Having learned these words by heart in elementary school, I realized reading this marvelous book how much I did not know about the poem, its author and the times in which she lived. Emma Lazarus was able to become the voice of the Statue of Liberty because she met and supported the immigrants that came through New York. The watercolor and gouache illustrations accompanying the simple but powerful text are outstanding and highly reflective of early 19th century artwork.
Jackie’s Gift by Sharon Robinson. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. ©2010, Viking. Ages 4-8. I am always in search of books about about interfaith relations, the December Dilemma, sharing holidays (not combining holidays) and the like, and while this book may not exactly be in that category, it is currently the closest thing we have been offered this year. The great Jackie Robinson is moving two houses down from young baseball fan, Steve Satlow, who could not be happier. While some of his neighbors are angry that an African-American family is moving into the neighborhood, Steve and his Jewish-American family befriend the Robinsons the moment they move in. The new friendship blossoms until Jackie brings a Christmas tree over to the Satlows as a way to thank them for their warm welcome. Once the Robinson’s realize their mistake and the Satlow’s clear any misunderstanding, a family legend is born. This charming story celebrates sharing traditions, fostering real friendship and the true meaning of giving.
Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book Adapted by Sarah Gershman. Illustrated by Kristina Swarner. ©2010, EKS Publishing Company. Ages 2-8. In this companion volume to their Sydney Taylor Award winning, The Bedtime Shema: A Goodnight Book, Gershman and Swarner once again team up, this time to help us start the day thanking God for the gifts that surround us. Using simple language and soft, brightly colored illustrations, they set the tone for a day filled with wonder and gratitude. Excerpts from the traditional Morning Blessing prayers in Hebrew and English translation are provided in the back of the book along with an explanation of how to incorporate the Modeh Ani into your daily living. Couple this with All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang and your family’s day will start off great.
Those are my picks for “pretty close to best” 2010 Jewish Books for Young Readers. Tomorrow, What About the Rest? Part II: “pretty close to best” Books for Older Readers (Middle Grades).
©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my own collection or my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site 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.