Posts Tagged ‘Hanukkah’

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.

. ________________________________________________________________ .

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.

You must be hungry. Won’t you have a little something? Welcoming Guests/Hachnasat Orchim

According to tradition,  it was Abraham Aveinu, Our Father Abraham, who started the mitzvah of Welcoming Guests/Hachnasat Orchim when he arose from the spot where he was resting following his circumcision and greeted Adonai and two angels offering to “fetch a morsel of bread” that they might refresh themselves (Genesis 18: 1-5).  With that simple statement, he sets in motion the production of a feast that any Jewish mother would be proud of.  He orders Sarah to prepare a mountain of bread and cakes, while  he slaughters a choice calf and  prepares curds and milk – in other words, he makes enough food for an army.  Digging deeper, however, a lovely piece of midrash reveals:

“All the days in which Sarah lived, the doors of the entrance [to her tent] were open to the wind (ruah)….  And all the days in which Sarah lived, there was a blessing sent through the dough [with which she baked]…. All the days in which Sarah lived, there was a light burning from one Shabbat evening to the next Shabbat evening….” (Genesis Rabbah 80:16 on Genesis 24:67).

So it seems that Adonai and the angels may not have been the first visitors to the tent of Abraham and Sarah, certainly they were not the last.  The midrash continues that when Isaac took Rebekkah as his wife, these same mystical rituals continued.

Welcoming Guests/Hachnasat Orchim is a wonderful mitzvah that allows us to meet new people and share our traditions with others. This time of year, with Hanukkah beginning on the evening of December 20, provides a perfect opportunity to practice this mitzvah with family, friends and neighbors.

The following books are wonderful examples of this delightful mitzvah:

Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives. Written by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by Arthur Howard, ©2004. Harcourt, Inc.  Ages 3-6.  In five short, simple chapters, Bubbaville becomes abuzz with the imminent arrival of the relatives. The house must be rearranged. All the best dishes must be cooked. There is no escape, even when Bubba and Beau try to hide in their favorite mud hole. What are a baby and her buddy dog supposed to do?

The Snow Blew Inn. Written by Dian Curtis Regan. Illustrated by Doug Cushman, ©2011. Holiday House. Ages 3-6. Emma has made plans to have a sleep over with her cousin, Abby. But a snow storm arrives before Abby, bringing with it stranded travelers who need a place to stay for the night. Every space in the tiny inn is taken – even Emma’s bedroom! Will there be room for Abby and her mother if they arrive?

The Paper Crane. Written and Illustrated By Molly Bang, ©1985. William Morrow & Company. Ages 5-8.  A hectic, award winning restaurant sat on a busy road, until one day a new highway was built that bypassed the restaurant. No one came anymore, and the restaurant was empty most of the time.  One day an old man stopped in for food. The restaurant owner, delighted to see a customer at last, fed him generously, even though the stranger had no money. In payment, the old man folded a paper napkin into the shape of a crane. With this simple gift, the restaurant’s future changed.

A Song for Lena. Written by Hilary Horder Hippely.  Illustrated by Leslie Baker, ©1996. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-8.  Lena’s Grandma makes delicious apple strudel. While she makes it, she hums a beautiful song to remind her of her childhood. As Lena helps her make the strudel, Grandma tells her the story of a traveler, of hospitality and of a special unexpected gift.

The Stranger. Written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Houghton Mifflin Company, © 1986 Ages 7-10.  In late summer, early fall, Farmer Bailey accidently hits a man with his truck. The man is unable to speak and does not know who he is. He stays with the family for a few weeks until he suddenly remembers who he is.

Skellig. By David Almond. Laurel Leaf Books, © 1998. Ages 9-12. When Michael moves into a new house in a new neighborhood he hopes that life for him and his family will change for the better, his ailing baby sister will get well and he will do better in school. Nothing like that happens, until he finds a strange person/creature/thing in his dilapidated garage.

The Arrival. Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Arthur A. Levine Books, © 2006. Ages 11-15. In this graphic novel, a man must leave his wife and young daughter to emigrate to a new country, find a job and start a new life before sending for them..

I try to keep the “walls of my tent” open as much as possible.  Whether serving my family of four or a house full of guests, I take joy in each moment. Each individual has a story to tell, an experience to share and all together my life has been made richer by each encounter. As you read these books, discuss them with your children using the “Speak Volumes” guide, the questions and activities will provide you with many opportunities to welcome guests during this special holiday-filled month.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by publishers as review copies and 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.

Book Review | Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah…Already!


Hanukkah begins this Friday, December 11 (25 Kislev) at sundown. In our home, we will light the first Hanukkah candle and then light our Shabbat candles before we sit down for our festive Hanukkah dinner featuring potato latkes (with applesauce) as the star attraction.

Read the rest of this review »

Book Review | Hanukkah Around the World
by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Score: 3

It is always fascinating to learn how other Jewish communities around the world celebrate their Jewish holidays. In this companion volume to Passover Around the World, we learn many new and interesting facts about how the customs and traditions of Hanukkah are interpreted and celebrated.

Read the rest of this review »

Book Review | Hanukkah Moon
by Deborah daCosta

Score: 4

Illustrated by Mosz, Gosia © 2007 Kar-Ben Publishing What a delightful, beautiful, charming and multicultural Hanukkah story. Aunt Luisa is from Mexico and is celebrating Hanukkah and has invited her niece, Isobel, to celebrate with her at her home.  Apparently, in Mexico they celebrate the Hanukkah Moon, which is the Rosh Hodesh moon during Hanukkah. [...]

Read the rest of this review »

« Older Entries |