Hanukkah Books for Children

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind. ~Author Unknown

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Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff (Author), Kyrsten Brooker (Illustrator), (Ages 3-7).When Goldie Simcha doesn’t joyfully throw open her door to welcome everyone in to her apartment for a meal of her famous cholent, her neighbors wonder what could be wrong. Little Lali Omar knocks on the door to 5-A, only to learn that Goldie was feeling too sick on Friday to cook, and everyone knows you can’t make cholent in a hurry, right away, chik chak! But it just isn’t Shabbat without cholent. What can her neighbors do to save the day? In an uplifting story that warms more than your heart, Chik Chak Shabbat offers a cholent recipe that keeps Goldie’s sharing spirit alive.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz (Author), David Slonim (Illustrator). Beyond the joy of a Jewish take on this most American of folk songs, the illustrations here offer hilarious parodies of great works of art by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hopper, Rockwell, Matisse, Picasso, and other masters–adding a whole new layer of humor and culture to the familiar tune. You’ll love this old lady, and want to visit her every Chanukah for years to come. (Ages 4-8)

SIMON AND THE BEAR: A HUNUKKAH TALE by Eric A. Kimmel (Author), Matthew Trueman (Illustrator).This fanciful Hanukkah tale-like none you’ve ever read before-celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love. A retelling of the ancient Hanukkah story is included on the last page. (Ages 3-5)

The Dreidel that Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson (Author), Durga Yael Bernhard (Illustrator). In this gentle parable, a peddler gives a splendorous Hanukkah dreidel to the greedy owner of a toy shop with the admonishment that ‘…the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought’… Folkloric watercolor illustrations in a pale palette are appropriately soft in tone while images of the toys offering their own expressive impressions of the goings-on inject a bit of humor. A lovely choice for those wishing to circumvent the more commercial aspects of the holiday. –School Library Journal (Ages 4-8)

MY GRANDFATHER’S COAT by Jim Aylesworth (Author), Barbara McClintock (Illustrator). This new adaptation of the Yiddish folk song presented in Simms Taback’s Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Viking, 1999) and Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing (Scholastic, 1992) is a fresh rhythmic retelling with charming cartoon-style illustrations that deserves a place even in collections that own the other two. Aylesworth’s story, told in the voice of the main character’s granddaughter, recounts highlights of her grandfather’s life: coming to America, becoming a tailor, and making himself “a handsome coat…that he wore on his wedding day!” The worn coat becomes “a smart jacket”; the shabby jacket, “a snazzy vest”; the frayed vest, “a stylish tie.” In this version, the threadbare tie is transformed into a toy for a great grandson’s kittens, then a cozy nest for a mouse and her babies. As in both older versions, this one features repetition and a rhyming refrain. McClintock’s pen-and-ink detailed watercolor illustrations highlight four generations of family history. Following the title-page scene that shows ships streaming toward Ellis Island, then a photolike pose of grandfather as a boy on deck passing the Statue of Liberty, the story unfolds in two-to-three small vignettes per page, each accompanied by a snippet of text, with a full-page scene at each major juncture. The paintings highlight McClintock’s special skill for aging grandpa. Her eye for detail is apparent in ever-changing clothing styles; in a sole coming loose from young grandpa’s shoe; and the evolution of his sewing machines from treadle to modern motorized. This is a tale worth reading again and again.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH (Ages 4-8)

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