November 19 – Get Ready for Hanukkah

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About Today’s Post

I’m happy to be spotlighting four books for Hanukkah found on the Holiday Highlights Fall 2021 list created by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). Overseen by Heidi Rabinowitz – Library Director, Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida and Host of The Book of Life: A  Podcast About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly) – the Holiday Highlights committee selects titles that “exemplify the highest standards of authentic Jewish representation and holiday spirit in both writing and illustration. A committee of expert judges recommends these books for use by families, in schools, and in libraries. AJL hopes that the publishing world will look to the quality of these examples when creating new children’s books about Jewish holidays.” Read the Fall 2021 Holiday Highlights List here.

I’m also thrilled to share Heidi’s review of Is It Hanukkah Yet? that originally appeared on The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, another project of the Association of Jewish Libraries. You can find the link to Heidi’s review and more information about The Shmooze with her review below.

Red and Green and Blue and White

Written by Lee Wind | Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

 

On a block where every house was decorated in red and green for Christmas, “one house shone Blue and White” for Hanukkah. At Isaac’s house, he had helped his family decorate their window with a garland, a Star of David, and a menorah. Across the street, Isaac’s friend Teresa “helped her family trim their Christmas tree” displayed in the front window. While Isaac liked to write and Teresa liked to draw, they both “loved playing in the snow, counting down to the holidays, and thought you couldn’t have too many sprinkles on a cookie.”

At night Teresa turned on her Christmas tree and “her house glowed Red and Green.” Isaac lit his menorah, and “his house glowed Blue and White.” Later that night when everyone was sleeping, however, someone crept up to Isaac’s house and threw a rock through the front window. Glass flew and the menorah flickered out.

When the police came, they and Isaac’s parents talked for a long time. His dad decided it would be safer for Isaac and his sister to sleep in their room. Isaac’s mother thought maybe they shouldn’t light the menorah again, but Isaac “knew it would be like hiding they were Jewish. That didn’t feel right.”

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Image copyright Paul O. Zelinsky, 2021, text copyright Lee Wind, 2021. Courtesy of Levine Querido.

The next night, Isaac did light the menorah, and his house glowed once more. Watching from across the street, Teresa was glad to see the menorah shine again. She drew a picture of a menorah, added “For Isaac.” And hung it in her front window. “Through the paper, the light shone Blue and White.” Others saw Teresa’s sign and her idea grew and grew and grew. Isaac’s friends joined in. Pictures of menorahs appeared in the windows of the school, the library, and downtown shops. The story even appeared on TV and in newspapers.

In the three weeks from the time Teresa made her sign, more than 10,000 windows glowed with the “true spirit of the holidays—the true meaning of community” as the town celebrated “Christmas tree and Menorah light, / red and green and blue and white / stronger together, shining bright.”

An Author’s Note following the story reveals that the book was inspired by actual events in December 1993 in Billings, Montana and encourages readers to be supporting UPstanders instead of BYstanders when they see injustice or other bad things happening to someone. To learn more about the story behind Red and Green and Blue and White, readers can visit Lee Wind’s website.

Lee Wind’s retelling of a true story of a girl and then a whole town who stand up to antisemitism and violence makes for a compelling and emotional read aloud that will move young readers and empower them to fight against prejudice, bullying, and injustice wherever they see it. Through his comparisons of Isaac and Teresa’s favorite activities and their pre-holiday preparations, Wind emphasizes the two families’ similarities, reminding readers that while people’s beliefs and celebrations may be different, we all want the same things from our friendships, family, and life in general.

Teresa’s action in support of Isaac may remind many children of their role in creating and displaying signs to thank frontline workers during the not-so-long-ago lockdown, which also demonstrated kids’ natural empathy and desire to connect with their community. Wind’s factual storytelling will captivate readers and echoes the speed with which Teresa’s idea spread to thousands of homes and beyond.

Paul O. Zelinsky uses aerial and angled perspectives as well as evocative two-page spreads that connect Isaac and Teresa and their homes and to invite readers into their similar, yet different holiday preparations. The opening spread of a nighttime look at the block where Isaac lives glows peacefully with red, green, blue, white, and gold lights. Along the outside edge, however, the grey clouds from the title page encroach, a symbolic image of the trouble to come. As kids see Isaac’s and Teresa’s families simultaneously decorating their homes, they will notice how similar the silhouettes are and that a star also features prominently in each holiday.

Midway through the story, Zelinsky’s vibrant, cheerful, and carefree illustrations are interrupted by a dark image of a shadowy, gloved hand hurling a rock at Isaac’s front window. The soft lines used previously turn angled as shards erupt from the shattered glass. With the relighting of the menorah the next night, the vivid colors resume as Teresa and Isaac share their idea at school and it spreads throughout the community until the final spreads depict a town solidly in support of their Jewish neighbors. Special mention must be made of Zelinsky’s use of color as a unifying symbol. The title colors appear often—in Isaac’s thoughts, Teresa’s art, clothing, food, snowbanks, and town buildings. Gold also becomes a universal and hopeful accent, defining school desks, library bookshelves and, in the final spread, outlining rooftops as far as the eye can see. A blue river winds its way through the town toward the horizon, where the sun is just rising, tinging the clouds now high and fair with golden light.

A powerful and uplifting true story that every child (and adult) should know, Red and Green and Blue and White is a must for home, school, and library collections.

Ages 4 – 7 

Levine Querido, 2021 | ISBN 978-1646140879

Discover more about Lee Wind and his books, visit his website.

To learn more about Paul O. Zelinsky, his books, and his art, visit his website.

You can find Red and Green and Blue and White at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

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Hanukkah at Valley Forge

Written by Stephen Krensky | Illustrated by Greg Harlin

 

In the bitter cold, the general looked down from the stony ridge at Valley Forge and worried about his men. They had been at war for more than two years, and now some were without weapons while others lacked coats and shoes. “And nobody had enough to eat. ‘An army of skeletons,’ one witness had called them.” As the general walked passed the soldiers’ huts, he noticed one man light a candle. “The flame flickered for a moment and then grew steady” as the soldier spoke softly. The general went in, startling the man. He was surprised and nervous to see General Washington there.

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Image copyright Greg Harlin, 2006, text copyright Stephen Krensky, 2006, revised edition, 2021. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

When General Washington mentioned the cold weather, the soldier agreed, but said it was no colder than his home in Poland. “‘And there not only is the weather cold, the laws are cold as well. If my family were to light a candle tonight, they would have to do it in secret. But that will not stop them, for this is the first night of Hanukkah.” General Washington had never heard of Hanukkah and asked the soldier to tell him more. The soldier began to tell him the history of the holiday beginning when “the people of Israel were ruled by Antiochus, a Greek king…who wanted them to worship…Greek gods.” Washington well understood the desire to be free of foreign rulers.

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Image copyright Greg Harlin, 2006, text copyright Stephen Krensky, 2006, revised edition, 2021. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

The soldier continued to tell him about how the High Priest, Mattathais drew his sword and fought against the forbidden actions the Greek soldiers were forcing on the Israelites. While many lives were lost, “Mattathais escaped, and he and his five sons, the Maccabees, became the leaders of a rebellion.” It seemed that this small band was no match for the much bigger army. Washington knew this feeling too as declaring Independence from England was not the same as getting it. “‘We too have a cruel enemy who leaves us only with the choice of brave resistance or abject submission.’”

The soldier related how Judah inspired his small troops by reminding them that while the Greeks trusted in their weapons, the Israelites “‘trusted in the Almighty God.’” They won that crucial battle and many more, finally defeating them. To celebrate they restored their temple and went to light the menorah. They only had enough oil to last one day, and “‘once lit, the menorah was never supposed to go out.’” They lit it anyway, believing God would lead them to more oil. But there was none to be found. For eight days they searched, and all during that time the menorah stayed lit.

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Image copyright Greg Harlin, 2006, text copyright Stephen Krensky, 2006, revised edition, 2021. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

The soldier then told General Washington how he would light one candle each night for eight nights to honor that miracle from long ago. As Washington got ready to leave, he felt inspired by the Maccabees’ success and was heartened to think that “‘miracles may still be possible.’” He left the soldier in a more positive spirit than he’d felt in a long time as the Hanukkah candles glowed late into the night.

An Author’s Note reveals the history of this story that is based on facts and a conversation recorded by the stepdaughter of Michael Hart, a Jewish merchant from Pennsylvania, with whom George Washington dined in 1778. Stephen Krensky also relates that some of General Washington’s dialog in the story was borrowed from his own writings to echo his real voice.

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Image copyright Greg Harlin, 2006, text copyright Stephen Krensky, 2006, revised edition, 2021. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

Stephen Krensky’s beautiful telling of the Hanukkah story framed by the historical struggles of the American revolutionary soldiers at Valley Forge makes for a poignant tale about the meaning of Hanukkah as well as the power of belief and miracles. Krensky’s evocative storytelling is enriched with sensory details that convey the brutal conditions and seemingly hopeless circumstances faced by both the Israelite and American soldiers. The juxtaposition allows children (those who celebrate Hanukkah as well as those who may be unfamiliar with the holiday) to understand and appreciate the soldiers’ successes against the odds and how the miracle of Hanukkah continues to inspire. Lovely metaphorical descriptions connect the light from the Polish soldier’s Hanukkah candles to the Maccabees and to anyone searching for strength and encouragement. As readers finish the book, they are heartened with the knowledge that light always triumphs.

Greg Harlin’s affecting paintings relay the frozen bleakness of Valley Forge as General Washington gazes down on the makeshift wooden huts, the cold made obvious in the horse’s windswept mane and clouds of breath. As the soldiers huddle around a meager fire and trudge through the snow gripping their tattered cloaks around them, readers can almost feel the icy temperatures. How warm and welcome then is the glow from the candles that attracts General Washington’s attention as the Polish man celebrates Hanukkah quietly on his own. Portraits of the soldier and Washington will captivate kids’ attention and comparing the early images with the final picture of the two together can lead into discussions about trust and equality.

Several finely detailed and impactful illustrations depict the subjugation of the Israelites under Greek rule and the moment when Judah takes up arms against it. Two following page spreads demonstrate the similarities between the sizes of the American and the Israelite troops. Readers will be interested in images of the temple under restoration and its original menorah. The heart of the story is told in the final pages, where the Hanukkiah and Shamash candles glow, dispelling the gloom both in Washington’s mind and outside, as the Polish soldier celebrates Hanukkah.

Newly released in a slightly revised edition from the 2006 original, Hanukkah at Valley Forge, the winner of the 2007 Sydney Taylor Book Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries, is a moving and beautifully conceived and illustrated story for the holiday and any time of the year. The book is a must for school and public library collections and is highly recommended for all home libraries as well.

Ages 4 – 8

Apples & Honey Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1681155845

Discover more about Stephen Krensky and his books on his website.

You can find Hanukkah at Valley Forge at these booksellers

Amazon | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

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Is It Hanukkah Yet?

Written by Nancy Krulik | Illustrated by Monique Dong

 

Reviewed by Heidi Rabinowitz

The exuberant first person voice of a nameless little girl makes the controlled vocabulary come alive in this early reader. The child and her grandparents happily prepare for the holiday, and celebrate when the parents arrive home from work at sundown. Typical Hanukkah activities such as making latkes, reading about the Maccabees, lighting candles, playing dreidel, and eating sufganiyot are woven naturally into the story. Grandma gifts her granddaughter the music box they play with at her house (“Now you can hear our special song anytime you like!”),  which pleasantly emphasizes relationships instead of consumerism.

Originally published in 2000 with pictures by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, this new edition has energetic, rounded illustrations by Monique Dong, arranged with plenty of white space to give the eyes of early readers a break. The storyline has also been updated: in this version, both parents work while the grands babysit, and Grandpa cooks the latkes. In addition, we see Grandma using her cell phone to take a photo, a nicely modern touch.

As a typical story of a white Jewish Ashkenazi middle class North American family celebrating Hanukkah, this book hits all the right beats. As an early reader, the authentic and positive Jewish content is extremely welcome.

Ages 4 – 6

Random House, 2021 | ISBN 978-0593375846

Discover more about Nancy Krulik and her books on her website.

You can find Heidi Rabinowitz’s original review of Is It Hanukkah Yet? as well as many more books for readers from baby to young adult at The Sydney Taylor Shmooze.

Reviewer Heidi Rabinowitz is one of the co-admins of The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, along with Susan Kusel and Chava Pinchuck. She hosts The Book of Life Podcast: A Show About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly) at bookoflifepodcast.com. Heidi is Past President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Library Director at Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida.
 

 

You can find Is It Hanukkah Yet? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

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Hello, Hanukkah!

By Susan S. Novich

 

Little Badger is excited to celebrate Hanukkah with little ones in this bright board book that shares the traditions of the holiday while inviting kids to count and point out the colors of the candles as Badger places them in the menorah. Each page spread names one of the customs of Hanukkah as Badger and his friend – a bird with a whimsical crest of feathers – participate in the activity then lights a succeeding number of candles from one to eight.

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Copyright Susan S. Novich, 2021, courtesy of Kar-Ben.

Little Badger is an enthusiastic friend to celebrate with as he and Bird play dreidel, sing songs, make latkes, and read the story of the Maccabees. “Little Badger noshes on chocolate gelt and lights six pink Hanukkah candles” on his way to adding jelly to sufganiyot and saying the blessings over the eight candles in the glowing menorah. 

Susan S. Novich’s short, active sentences are perfect for the targeted audience, and give adults the opportunity to explain more about each tradition as they read together. Children will love Novich’s textured paper-cut, collage-style illustrations, which shine with captivating perspectives, movement, and the joy of the holiday. In addition to counting the candles and learning colors, little ones will giggle at Badgers silly slippers, and enthusiastically recognize other familiar household items. 

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Copyright Susan S. Novich, 2021, courtesy of Kar-Ben.

A fun and meaningful way to share the holiday with the youngest readers, Hello, Hanukkah! would make a wonderful gift and is highly recommended for home, preschool, and public library collections.

Ages 1 – 4

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2021 | ISBN 978-1728403441

Discover more about Susan S. Novich, her books, and her art on her website.

For a signed copy of Hello, Hanukkah!, order from Books on the Square in Providence, RI.

 

You can also find Hello, Hanukkah! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Get Ready for Hanukkah Activity 

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Festival of Lights Word Search

 

Find 20 words related to Hanukkah celebrations in this printable puzzle!

Festival of Lights Word SearchFestival of Lights Word Search Solution 

Festival of Lights Word Search (Easier) |  Festival of Lights Word Search Solution (Easier)

Picture Book Review

December 7 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

With so many gift-giving opportunities this month, December is the perfect time to discover new books for any age! Whether you’re sharing the fun or traditions of a holiday, adding to a favorite series, looking to inspire with nonfiction, or buying a baby their first book, the delight, wonder, and shared experiences of reading offers is one of the best presents you can give. This month visit or order from your local independent bookstore to pick out special books for the loved ones on your list. (And don’t forget to treat yourself!)

Latkes for Santa Claus

Written by Janie Emaus | Illustrated by Bryan Langdo

 

Anna was composing an email to Santa, letting him know her house would be a new stop on his route since her new dad and stepbrother celebrated Christmas. She promises him that she’s going to leave him “the best Santa treat ever.” Hearing this, Anna’s brother Michael countered that his cookies were “the best Santa treat ever.” In the kitchen, Michael invited Anna to help him bake, but she was trying to think of something better than cookies.

Her mom was making Bubbe Sadie’s. matzo ball soup, and the aroma made Anna think this would make the perfect snack for Santa. But Michael reminded her that Santa needed finger food, and she imagined “Santa gulping on his sled. / Slurp. Burp. Slop. Spill. / Matzo balls on Santa’s head.” That would never do, she thought. Then she spied Aunt Bea’s noodle kugel on the counter and knew the “sweet taste of noodle kugel” would be just the thing.

His sugar cookies finished, Michael had moved on to making the oatmeal cookies he said Santa loved. He mentioned that Santa wouldn’t be able to eat kugel with his fingers, and Anna pictured him trying with disastrous results. How about Aunt Sarah’s delicious tzimmes root vegetable stew. But was it finger food? Michael didn’t think so. And Santa so loved his chocolate chip cookies. “Anna imagined— A bowl of stew zipping by. / Santa spooning on his sled. / Slurp. Burp. Slop. Spill. / Gobs of stew on Santa’s head.”

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Image copyright Bryan Langdo, text copyright Janie Emaus, 2020. Courtesy of Sky Pony.

Anna went off to think about the perfect treat, and finally it came to her. In fact, her mom had just made a batch. She went to the kitchen, put some on a plate, and hid them for later. That night she stayed awake until the house was silent. Then she snuck into the pantry and placed four latkes on the plate with Michael’s cookies. This time she imagined Santa happy and satisfied as he nibbled on the latkes. “The wind whistled Christmas songs. The stars twinkled like Hanukkah lights” as Anna waited to hear Santa’s reindeer land on the roof. She just closed her eyes for a second… and then Michael was waking her up on Christmas morning.

They ran downstairs and were excited to find that not only had Santa taken all of Michael’s cookies, he’d also grabbed all of Anna’s Latkes. Just then there was a familiar bing from the computer. Anna found an email from Santa saying how much he’d loved her latkes and was already looking forward to next year’s treat. He’d boasted about them so much, in fact, that Mrs. Clause wanted Anna’s recipe.

Reading this, Michael decided that maybe cookies were kind of boring after all, and suggested Grandma Linda’s lemon jello. Was that a finger food? Anna didn’t think so, but she was sure they could come up with something Santa would love. After all, they had a whole year to think about it.

Recipes for Grandma Sylvia’s Potato Latkes and Santa’s Sprinkled Sugary Shapes follow the story.

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Image copyright Bryan Langdo, text copyright Janie Emaus, 2020. Courtesy of Sky Pony.

Janie Emaus’s original story focused on a favorite part of Christmas Eve traditions—Santa’s snack—presents a clever and inclusive way for blended families to celebrate the joys of Hanukkah and Christmas together. Through Anna’s humorous imaginings of Santa trying to eat matza ball soup, kugel, and tzimmes, Emaus offers readers funny rhyming verses with repeated phrasing that kids will love to chime in on, especially “Slurp. Burp. Slop. Spill.” Michael and Anna’s sibling rivalry over the snack is good-natured and shows how this new brother and sister pair are quickly becoming a team. The list of traditional Jewish dishes will excite kids who already love them and entice those who aren’t to try them. Anna’s impressions of the world outside her window on this special night invite readers to embrace both of these meaningful holidays and those who observe them.

In Bryan Langdo’s vibrant and engaging illustrations, Hanukkah and Christmas reside side-by-side, just as Anna and Michael do. A menorah is prominently displayed on the fireplace mantle and Michael spins a dreidel while Christmas lights line the walls and a Christmas tree stands lit and decorated nearby. When the kids take to the cozy kitchen, Anna’s grandmother stands at the stove stirring a large pot of matza ball soup. The banter between Michael and Anna over Santa’s treat ushers in vivid and giggle-inducing images of Santa trying to spoon up splashing soup, dodging flying bowls of kugel, and finally wearing the bowl of stew on his head all while attempting to steer his sleigh. Sketched with a light touch, Langdo’s characters are charming and warm, and Anna and Michael are delightful siblings to carry this story about acceptance and family love.

A fun and inclusive story for Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations and to celebrate the joys of family, Latkes for Santa Claus would make an excellent gift for pre-holiday story times and baking and a charming addition to home, school, and public libraries for any time of the year.

Ages 3 – 6

Sky Pony, Simon & Schuster, 2020 | ISBN 978-1510759886

Discover more about Janie Emaus and her books on her website.

To learn more about Bryan Langdo, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Read a New Book Month Activity

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Make Latkes for Santa

 

With this coloring sheet and puzzle, you can put together a plate of latkes for Santa – or yourself!

Make Latkas for Santa Coloring Page

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You can find Latkes for Santa Claus at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 30 – Get Ready for Hanukkah

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About the Holiday

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is the Jewish wintertime celebration that commemorates the victory of the small Maccabean army over the much more powerful Greek/Syrian forces and the rededication of the Holy Temple during the second century BCE. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days in remembrance of the miracle of the oil lamp, which at the time only held enough oil for one day yet burned for eight days. This year Hanukkah takes place from December 10 through 18.

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah

Written by Erica S. Perl | Illustrated by Shahar Kober

 

A family has just moved into their new apartment. It’s the first night of Hanukkah, but they can’t find their Hanukkah things amidst all the boxes. So, without the menorah or delicious latkes, Mom, Dad, Rachel, and Max sit on the floor eating pizza. “It was nice…but it didn’t feel quite like Hanukkah.” On the second night, they still hadn’t found the menorah, but Rachel and Max made one from a piece of wood, their jar of nuts and bolts, and some craft paint. It was all ready to light, when Mom discovered that they didn’t have the candles either.

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Image copyright Shahar Kober, 2020, text copyright Erica S. Perl, 2020. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

With the stores closed, Rachel and Max went next door to apartment 2C. They introduced themselves to Mrs. Mendez and explained their situation. She offered the only candles she had—a box of birthday candles. “Dad lit the shamash. Max and Rachel each used it to light a candle.” Then they opened presents. While it was nice, it still “didn’t feel quite like Hanukkah.
On the third night, the “lucky latke pan” was nowhere to be found, but Max appeared with a steaming plate of French fries from Joe, the super, who lived downstairs.

By the fourth night of Hanukkah, Mom and Dad were beginning to think the box with their Hanukkah things had gotten lost. Max wanted to play dreidel, so while Mom called the moving company, Max and Rachel met the Watson twins, who didn’t have a dreidel, but they did have a toy that spun and spun. On the fifth night, Rachel and Max had made their own dreidel, “which meant they needed gelt.” On the fourth floor, Max and Rachel met Mr. Patel, who handed Max the only chocolate he had—a bag of chocolate chips. All of these substitutions were “nice…but it didn’t feel quite like Hanukkah.”

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Image copyright Shahar Kober, 2020, text copyright Erica S. Perl, 2020. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Each night of Hanukkah Max and Rachel missed a different part of their Hanukkah celebration, and each night a new neighbor did the best they could to supply it. On the morning after the eighth night of Hanukkah, a delivery person showed up at the door with Mom’s guitar. She suggested a sing-along, but Rachel reminded her that Hanukkah was over. Max, however, had another idea and pointed to the ninth candle on the menorah. This gave Rachel an idea too, and she and Max whispered and planned. Then they waited. Soon “there was a knock on the door. And another. And another.”

When all the neighbors had gathered, Max and Rachel explained their Shamash Night celebration. Like the Shamash candle “helps light all the other candles,” they said, their new neighbors had helped them celebrate Hanukkah. “‘So we wanted to say thanks—to the Shamash and to you,’” Rachel said. Just then the delivery person appeared with the long-lost box. On the ninth night in their new home, Mom and Dad, Rachel and Max ate, played, sang, and danced with all of their new friends, “and best of all, it felt exactly like Hanukkah.”

An Author’s Note following the story tells about the history and tradition of the shamash candle and the idea that sparked the writing of The Ninth Night of Hanukkah. Erica S. Perl also provides a guide on how families can hold their own “Shamash Night.”

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Image copyright Shahar Kober, 2020, text copyright Erica S. Perl, 2020. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Community, resilience, and children’s creativity infuse every page of Erica S. Perl’s story that’s a wonderful Hanukkah read as well as a story families will want to share all year around. The apartment-house setting and the family’s just-moved-in situation combine to create a charming microcosm of making friends, getting to know new neighbors, and discovering the generosity of strangers. Rachel and Max, creative, close-knit, and accommodating, will captivate kids as they go along on their scavenger hunts for the makings of a homey Hanukkah celebration.

Perl’s substitutions—from birthday candles to French fries to a ukulele will appeal to readers. The repeated phrase “It was nice, but it didn’t feel quite like Hanukkah” applies to many make-do conditions and will resonate with children. It also provides suspense and a nice counterpoint for when the night does finally fulfill the Hanukkah feeling. Max and Rachel’s “Shamash Night” offers a message of gratitude not only for things but for friendship.

Shahar Kober’s warm-toned illustrations mirror the heartfelt story and the kindness of the diverse group of neighbors as they provide workable solutions to Max and Rachel’s requests. Images of Rachel and Max creating a homemade menorah, dreidel, and wrapping paper may inspire kids to design their own Hanukkah or other holiday decorations and traditional items. Kober’s cartoon-style characters are expressive, demonstrating their disappointment in missing their well-loved Hanukkah things but more so their cheerful acceptance of what the neighbors can provide. Kids will enjoy watching the antics of the family’s cat, who likes to be in the middle of the action, but also is happy to make do with a moving box as a new napping spot.

A heartwarming and joyful Hanukkah story with messages of kindness, generosity, acceptance and a loving sibling relationship, The Ninth Night of Hanukkah is highly recommended for all home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8 and up

Sterling Children’s Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1454940883

Discover more about Erica S. Perl and her books on her website.

To learn more about Shahar Kober, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Get Ready for Hanukkah Activity

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Star of David Ornament

 

Kids can add a bit of sparkle to their Hanukkah celebrations with this Star of David ornament craft.

Supplies

  • 6 mini craft sticks
  • 2 round lids from clear plastic deli containers
  • Silver glitter
  • Blue craft paint
  • Clear-drying glue
  • Thin ribbon or string, 8 – 10 inches long

Directions

To Make the Star of David

  1. Paint the craft sticks with the blue paint, let dry
  2. Glue three of the craft sticks together to form a triangle; repeat with the other three sticks
  3. Glue the two triangles together to create a Star of David
  4. Glue a short length of ribbon to the top back of the Star of David

To Make the Case

  1. Apply a thin layer of clear-drying glue to the top, indented side of one of the lids
  2. Sprinkle the lid with the glitter, let dry
  3. When the glue is dry, center the Star of David in the lid with the ribbon trailing over the rim of the lid. The Star of David will be free hanging inside the case from the ribbon.
  4. Glue the rim of the indented side of the second lid to the rim of the first lid
  5. When dry, tie the ribbon into a loop for hanging

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ninth-night-of-hanukkah-cover

You can find The Ninth Night of Hanukkah at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

 

Celebrate Hanukkah with These Books and Activity

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About the Holiday

Celebrate the history, meaning, and fun of Hanukkah with your family and these books that are funny, moving, and full of kindness. Click on the title to be taken to the full review of each book. There’s a printable word search puzzle to enjoy too!

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Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster

Written by Jane Sutton | Illustrated by Andy Rowland

Jane Sutton brings humor and meaning to her Hanukkah story that reveals the true nature of the holiday and friendship. With clever gift choices and a sweet plot twist, Sutton’s Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster will have kids giggling and empathizing as Esther’s plans go awry. Her easy-going delivery invites kids along on Esther’s shopping trip and sets up the jokes and final swap in a natural and engaging way. Sutton’s inclusion of Esther’s and her friend’s honest reactions to the gifts encourages discussion of how to choose gifts, how to make up for mistakes, how to graciously accept gifts, and more topics surrounding gift-giving.

Andy Rowland’s purple gorilla Esther is sweetly expressive even as she is a bit oblivious to the needs of her friends and clearly disgruntled when her gifts don’t work out. Kids will love the brightly colored illustrations loaded with details appropriate to Esther’s world, especially the bowls, drawers, and hangers of bananas, banana cookbooks, banana-decorated table cloth and even a banana-shaped teapot in her kitchen. The Jungle Store is a riff on big-box stores with multiple departments where shoppers finding everything from fish for a pelican to a book of Antelope Recipes for a lion to Ele-Wellie boots for an elephant.

Esther’s nighttime neighborhood is likewise beautifully drawn with lush foliage; hanging lanterns; wood, bamboo, and stone homes; and even a waterfall. The window of each friend’s home frames a menorah.

With its humorous take on a common mishap and loveable characters, Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster is a book kids will enjoy no matter what the gift-giving occasion is!

Ages 4 – 7

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2013 | ISBN 978-0761390435

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-cover

Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles

Written by David A. Adler | Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

David A. Adler’s touching story about a little girl who sees someone in need and generously provides help is a heartening story for Hanukkah and any time of year. Adler’s straightforward storytelling, told from Sara’s first-person point of view, invites young readers to look out the window with her and join her as she saves a cookie for the old man and goes on to provide more food and finally companionship to him. The fact that Mr. Berger is a member of Sara’s synagogue reminds readers that people in need of help of all kinds are part of our community, are part of us. Readers will be charmed by Mr. Berger’s circus past and will learn from him that the gifts we have to share with others do not always need to be monetary to have value.

Jeffery Ebbeler’s enchanting illustrations of the city, complete with an adorably narrow Sol’s Market, take readers into Sara’s world, where she sees examples of people in need and those who have plenty. Sara’s contemplations about Mr. Berger and his plight are shown as she considers the full bowl of fruit on her kitchen table, watches someone ask for two hot dogs at the corner cart, and decides to save her cookie at school while the other kids eat theirs and reach for seconds. These same kids, however, happily give up their snack the next day to fill Sara’s bag for Mr. Berger. Classroom scenes and the image of Sara showering her cookies with sprinkles are familiar for all children celebrating holidays at school and at home. The family’s joyful Hanukkah dinner is doubly fun as Mr. Berger performs tricks that even the cat tries to do.

A moving story for Hanukkah and for sharing the spirit of giving all through the year, Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles is a fantastic addition to all home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Apples & Honey Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1681155005

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-cover

Hanukkah Hamster

Written by Michelle Markel | Illustrated by André Ceolin

Immersed in the special yearning for family and togetherness the holidays bring, Michelle Markel’s touching story glows with kindness and empathy. The growing friendship between Edgar and Chickpea will tug at readers’ hearts just as it does for Edgar, who so hopes to keep the little hamster but also knows there may be someone in the city missing him. As the days pass, and Edgar, alone for Hanukkah, shares his traditions with the hamster, readers also become participants in the holiday. Children will be riveted to the increasing suspense, and the pitch-perfect solution is joyful and satisfying. Realistic dialogue and honestly portrayed emotions provides depth to this moving story.

From the tiny white lights lining main street to the first glimpse of the little hamster to Edgar’s cozy apartment with his menorah in the window, André Ceolin’s richly colored illustrations invite readers into Edgar’s life with his new friend, Chickpea. Chickpea is adorable as it nibbles on salad, poses for pictures, and curls up in its shredded paper bed. Images of Edgar lighting the menorah are luminous, and the Edgar and Chickpea’s smiles will spark happiness in readers’ hearts.

The portrayals of friendship, generosity, empathy, and family make Hanukkah Hamster a poignant story for all children to share not only at the holidays but all year around. The book would make a wonderful gift and much loved addition to home and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363995

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-story-of-hanukkah-cover

The Story of Hanukkah

Written by David A. Adler | Illustrated by Jill Weber

With his exceptional storytelling skills, David A. Adler reveals the history of Hanukkah to children. In simple, yet compelling sentences, Adler clearly depicts the faith of the Jews and the dangers they faced from Antiochus and his army. Children will marvel over the astounding defeat of Antiochus’s soldiers at the hands of the Maccabees and be filled with awe as the Temple is rebuilt and the small amount of oil sustains the flame in the ner tamid for eight days. Children unfamiliar with Hanukkah celebrations will discover the meanings behind the traditional foods, dreidel game, and lighting of the Menorah in clear language full of the pride and emotions Jewish families feel during the holiday.

In her bright acrylic paintings Jill Weber brings to life the story of the Jews and the Maccabees, allowing children to fully experience the environment and perils of the time period. Her patchwork fields tended by farmers and shepherds give way to the majesty of the Temple with its central altar and glowing eternal flame. Weber’s battle scenes are particularly effective in presenting the destruction, fear, and final victory experienced by the Jews. Readers will be cheered by the joy depicted in the faces of the people celebrating the restoration of the Temple and the excitement of families observing Hanukkah today.

A recipe for Latkes as well as instructions on how to play Dreidel follow the text

The Story of Hanukkah is a wonderful introduction to the holiday for children learning their own heritage or for children discovering the traditions of friends, family, and others.

Ages 5 – 8

Holiday House, 2012 | ISBN 978-0823425471 (Paperback) | ISBN 978-0823440320 (Board Book)

Hanukkah Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-hanukkah-word-search

Festival of Lights Word Search

Find 20 words related to Hanukkah celebrations in this printable Festival of Lights Word Search puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-story-of-hanukkah-cover

December 22 – Hanukkah Begins

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-story-of-hanukkah-cover

About the Holiday

Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish wintertime “festival of lights” that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. Special prayers, oil-based foods, and gifts are also part of this looked-forward to holiday. Today’s reviewed book reveals the history and traditions of Hanukkah. If you are celebrating Hanukkah this week—many wishes for a meaningful and enjoyable holiday!

The Story of Hanukkah

Written by David A. Adler | Illustrated by Jill Weber

 

The story of Hanukkah began many centuries ago when Israel was known as Judea and the Jews living there worked as farmers and shepherds. Holidays were spent at the beautiful Temple, where the gates were covered in gold and silver. and a light—the ner tamid—always burned. While the Jews did not rule their land, they lived in peace. “Then a Greek, Antiochus IV became king. He tore down the walls of Jerusalem. Thousands were killed. Anyone who lit Sabbath candles, studied Jewish law, or refused to bow to Greek idols was put to death.”

When Antiochus’s army came to the town of Modiin, “they demanded that Mattathias, an old priest, worship one of their gods.” He refused and with his five sons and other followers ran into the hills. The soldiers chased them, but were attacked by “brave Jews hiding behind large rocks and inside caves….” When Mattathias died his son Judah became the group’s leader. He was known as the Maccabee, or “the hammer,” and the people who fought with him were called Maccabees.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-of-hanukkah-battle

Image copyright Jill Weber, courtesy of Holiday House Publishing

Antiochus did not give up easily. He sent his soldiers back on horses and even armored elephants. They carried swords and bows and arrows and were well-trained fighters. But despite the fact that there were 600 soldiers for every one Maccabee, the Maccabees defeated the mighty army. “Judah then led the Maccabees to Jerusalem. The Maccabees cried when they saw the Temple ruined and filled with garbage.” They went to work to restore the Temple to its former beauty.

Finally, the Temple was rebuilt and it came time to light the ner tamid. When the people looked for oil to fuel the light, however, all they found was a single jar with only enough oil to burn for one day. They lit the ner tamidm and although supplied with only a meager amount of oil, it burned for eight days—enough time for more oil to be prepared. “On the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the Temple again became the ‘House of God.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-of-hanukkah-celebrating-restored-temple

Image copyright Jill Weber, courtesy of Holiday House Publishing

Judah told his people that “every year on that date an eight-day holiday would begin.” The holiday would be called Hanukkah, meaning “dedication.” Today, Jews all over the world celebrate Hanukkah. Every night they light one more candle on the menorah. They sing special songs, eat latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and exchange gifts. Children also enjoy playing a game with a four-sided top called a dreidel. On each side of the dreidel “is a different Hebrew letter—the first letters of the Hebrew sentence Nes gadol hayah sham, which means ‘A great miracle happened there.’” “Hanukkah celebrates one of the first fights for religious freedom.”

With his exceptional storytelling skills, David A. Adler reveals the history of Hanukkah to children. In simple, yet compelling sentences, Adler clearly depicts the faith of the Jews and the dangers they faced from Antiochus and his army. Children will marvel over the astounding defeat of Antiochus’s soldiers at the hands of the Maccabees and be filled with awe as the Temple is rebuilt and the small amount of oil sustains the flame in the ner tamid for eight days. Children unfamiliar with Hanukkah celebrations will discover the meanings behind the traditional foods, dreidel game, and lighting of the Menorah in clear language full of the pride and emotions Jewish families feel during the holiday.

In her bright acrylic paintings Jill Weber brings to life the story of the Jews and the Maccabees, allowing children to fully experience the environment and perils of the time period. Her patchwork fields tended by farmers and shepherds give way to the majesty of the Temple with its central altar and glowing eternal flame. Weber’s battle scenes are particularly effective in presenting the destruction, fear, and final victory experienced by the Jews. Readers will be cheered by the joy depicted in the faces of the people celebrating the restoration of the Temple and the excitement of families observing Hanukkah today.

A recipe for Latkes as well as instructions on how to play Dreidel follow the text

The Story of Hanukkah is a wonderful introduction to the holiday for children learning their own heritage or for children discovering the traditions of friends, family, and others.

Ages 5 – 8

Holiday House, 2012 | ISBN 978-0823425471 (Paperback) | ISBN 978-0823440320 (Board Book)

To view more of the many, many books by David A. Adler, visit his website!

Discover a gallery of book illustration and other design work by Jill Weber on her website!

Hanukkah Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-hanukkah-word-search

Festival of Lights Word Search

 

Find 20 words related to Hanukkah celebrations in this printable Festival of Lights Word Search puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-story-of-hanukkah-cover

You can find The Story of Hanukkah at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

Picture Book Review

December 11 – Get Ready for Hanukkah

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-cover

About the Holiday

Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish “festival of lights” that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. The lighting of the menorah is at the heart of the celebration. On the first night, the first of the eight candles is lit using the shamash, or attendant, candle. Each subsequent night another candle is lit until at the end of the eight days all the candles are lit. The menorah is displayed in the window of homes and synagogues. Special blessings, traditional songs, prayers, oil-based foods, fun games, and gifts are part of this much-anticipated holiday.

Hanukkah Hamster

Written by Michelle Markel | Illustrated by André Ceolin

 

The city was decorated with twinkling lights for the holidays, and busy shoppers bustled in and out of stores, delivered there by Edgar and his cab. After one shift, Edgar was so tired he took a nap in the back seat. He was awakened when “Ohhhf! Something scrambled onto his chest. Ayyee! Something hairy brushed his face.” Edgar opened one eye to see… a hamster! He picked it up and gazed at its tiny eyes and ears and feet.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-city-lights

Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Edgar wondered which of his many customers may have lost the little hamster as he called in to the cab company’s lost and found department. Edgar took the little hamster home and shredded some paper to make him a bed. Then he went to his menorah, said the Hanukkah blessing, and lit two candles. All the next day as he drove people in his cab, Edgar wondered if someone had claimed the hamster, but no one did.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-sleeping

Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

That night after lighting three candles, Edgar made a chopped salad dinner for himself and a tiny one for the hamster. As he watched the little animal nibble on a chickpea, Edgar asked, “‘Okay if I call you Chickpea?’” No one had claimed Chickpea the next day either, so Edgar went to the pet store and bought hamster food. At home, he lit four candles and gave Chickpea some food. As Chickpea ate, “Edgar took pictures on his phone and shared them with his family in Israel.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-cab

Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

On the fifth night of Hanukkah, Edgar made Chickpea “a slide out of a cardboard tube. Chickpea whooshed down. Wheeee! His nose twitched.” As the week of Hanukkah went on, Edgar was fearful that someone might call about their missing hamster. He spent the evenings telling Chickpea about Tel Aviv until the little one fell asleep.

The next day, Edgar took a customer to a neighborhood on the edge of town. There he saw a woman who looked familiar. With her was her son. “Edgar felt a punch in his heart.” But he rolled down the window and asked the boy if he’d lost a hamster. The woman answered that she had bought the hamster for her classroom and thought he had escaped at home. “Edgar showed them pictures on his phone” of Chickpea eating salad, sliding through the tube and drifting off to sleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-chickpea

Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When the woman saw Edgar’s menorah in one of the pictures, Edgar told them how he and Chickpea were celebrating Hanukkah together since the rest of his family lived in Israel. When Edgar began to tell them that he could return the hamster tomorrow morning, “the boy touched his mother’s arm, and the two of them exchanged glances.” The woman told Edgar that she thought Chickpea belonged with him. Then she wished him a wonderful holiday. That night, “Edgar said the blessing and lit all the candles on the menorah.” Then, while he enjoyed a doughnut, Chickpea ran and ran on his new wheel.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 8.36.36 PM

Image copyright André Ceolin, 2018, text copyright Michelle Markel, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Immersed in the special yearning for family and togetherness the holidays bring, Michelle Markel’s touching story glows with kindness and empathy. The growing friendship between Edgar and Chickpea will tug at readers’ hearts just as it does for Edgar, who so hopes to keep the little hamster but also knows there may be someone in the city missing him. As the days pass, and Edgar, alone for Hanukkah, shares his traditions with the hamster, readers also become participants in the holiday. Children will be riveted to the increasing suspense, and the pitch-perfect solution is joyful and satisfying. Realistic dialogue and honestly portrayed emotions provides depth to this moving story.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 8.34.53 PM

From the tiny white lights lining main street to the first glimpse of the little hamster to Edgar’s cozy apartment with his menorah in the window, André Ceolin’s richly colored illustrations invite readers into Edgar’s life with his new friend, Chickpea. Chickpea is adorable as it nibbles on salad, poses for pictures, and curls up in its shredded paper bed. Images of Edgar lighting the menorah are luminous, and the Edgar and Chickpea’s smiles will spark happiness in readers’ hearts.

The portrayals of friendship, generosity, empathy, and family make Hanukkah Hamster a poignant story for all children to share not only at the holidays but all year around. The book would make a wonderful gift and much loved addition to home and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363995

Discover more about Michelle Markel and her books on her website.

To learn more about André Ceolin, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Get Ready for Hanukkah Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-hanukkah-word-search

Festival of Lights Word Search

 

Find 20 words related to Hanukkah celebrations in this printable Festival of Lights Word Search puzzle. Here’s the Solution.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-hamster-cover

You can find Hanukkah Hamster at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 4 – National Cookie Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-cover

About the Holiday

Whether you call them cookies or biscuits, these yummy treats have been around for quite a long time. Originating in Persia in the 7th century, cookies conquered Europe by the 14th century and came to America with the earliest settlers. Of course cookies are great any time of the year, but the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the delicious snap or soft melt-in-your-mouth goodness of favorite cookies. Baking together is one of the joys of the season for adults and kids, and you can bet that with each batch, good memories are being created too.

Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles

Written by David A. Adler | Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

 

A little girl watches out the window every morning as her mother goes to work, seeing other people hurrying along too. Across the street is Sol’s Market, and every morning Sol puts out a box of bruised fruit and vegetables for anyone to take. One day, an old man “takes out an apple and puts it on his shoulder. The apple rolls down his arm and into his hand. Then he takes a bite.” Sara wonders why he ate an apple with bad spots, and her grandmother tells her that the man is “probably poor and looking for something to eat.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-window

Image copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2015, text copyright David A. Adler, 2015. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

Sara thinks about the man all day at school. When snack time comes, she wraps the cookie her teacher gave her in her napkin and puts it in her pocket. The next morning, she asks her mom to leave it in the box at Sol’s Market. Later, she sees the man find the cookie and eat it. The next day at school, Sara tells her friends about the man, and they wrap up more cookies and their teacher gives them a container of juice to add to the bag. At home, Sara helps her mom make the man a sandwich to go with the cookies.

On Friday, Sara and her family go to synagogue and stay for the oneg Shabbat get together afterward. There, she sees the old man enjoying challah and grape juice. “After that, every day, when the man comes by Sol’s there is something for him to eat.” At school the kids are getting ready for Hanukkah. Their teacher talks about the origins and meaning of Hanukkah then the children make menorahs with “tiles, bottle cap, paint, and glue.” Sara brings her menorah home. Her grandmother says that it’s beautiful and puts it in the window. Before Sara’s mother comes home, she and her grandmother make latkes and Hanukkah cookies shaped like menorahs and dreidels with extras to spare.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-market

Image copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2015, text copyright David A. Adler, 2015. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

Later, Sara shows her mother her new menorah and asks her to put the one she made last year in the box at Sol’s. At first her grandmother is afraid she is throwing it out, but Sara tells her she is “‘giving tzedakah. I’m giving it to someone who has less than we have,’” she says. The bag also contains “latkes, cookies with sprinkles, and Hanukkah candles.” The next morning, she sees the old man find her gift and wipe away tears that she hopes are happy ones.

On Friday, Sara helps her mom and grandma fix a Shabbat and Hanukkah dinner, and at synagogue she asks if they can invite the old man to their house to join them. After speaking to the rabbi and learning that the man’s name is Morris Berger and that he helps at the synagogue, Sara and her mom ask if he’d like to join them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-school

Image copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2015, text copyright David A. Adler, 2015. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

Mr. Berger says yes. During dinner he talked about the days when he worked in a circus. He shows Sara some tricks and juggles small pieces of challah, which he then catches one-by-one in his mouth. After dinner, Sara’s mom brings out a plate of the Hanukkah cookies she made. “Now Mr. Berger knows who has been leaving cookies, sandwiches, and milk for him. He knows who left the menorah and candles.” Quietly, he says thank you.

Mr. Berger shows Sara a magic trick by pulling a cookie from behind her ear and making it disappear in one bite. “‘That’s okay,’” she says. “‘We have lots to share.’” Morris says he has things to share too and offers to teach Sara magic tricks and tell circus stories. Sara wants to learn how to juggle, but juggling, Mr. Berger says, “takes lots of practice.” Sara’s mom agrees that she will need many lessons. “Morris smiles. He knows that lots of lessons mean lots more Shabbat dinners with us.”

An Author’s Note about the meaning and traditions of Hanukkah, the game of dreidel, and thinking about giving tzedakah follows the story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-cookie

Image copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2015, text copyright David A. Adler, 2015. Courtesy of Apples & Honey Press.

David A. Adler’s touching story about a little girl who sees someone in need and generously provides help is a heartening story for Hanukkah and any time of year. Adler’s straightforward storytelling, told from Sara’s first-person point of view, invites young readers to look out the window with her and join her as she saves a cookie for the old man and goes on to provide more food and finally companionship to him. The fact that Mr. Berger is a member of Sara’s synagogue reminds readers that people in need of help of all kinds are part of our community, are part of us. Readers will be charmed by Mr. Berger’s circus past and will learn from him that the gifts we have to share with others do not always need to be monetary to have value.

Jeffery Ebbeler’s enchanting illustrations of the city, complete with an adorably narrow Sol’s Market, take readers into Sara’s world, where she sees examples of people in need and those who have plenty. Sara’s contemplations about Mr. Berger and his plight are shown as she considers the full bowl of fruit on her kitchen table, watches someone ask for two hot dogs at the corner cart, and decides to save her cookie at school while the other kids eat theirs and reach for seconds. These same kids, however, happily give up their snack the next day to fill Sara’s bag for Mr. Berger. Classroom scenes and the image of Sara showering her cookies with sprinkles are familiar for all children celebrating holidays at school and at home. The family’s joyful Hanukkah dinner is doubly fun as Mr. Berger performs tricks that even the cat tries to do.

A moving story for Hanukkah and for sharing the spirit of giving all through the year, Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles is a fantastic addition to all home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Apples & Honey Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1681155005

Discover more about David A. Adler and his books on his website.

To learn more about Jeffrey Ebbeler, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Cookie Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cookie-maze

Catch the Cookie! Maze

 

Sometimes you just need a cookie! Help the little girl find her way to her favorite cookies with this printable Catch the Cookie! Maze and Solution.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hanukkah-cookies-with-sprinkles-cover

You can find Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review