Bill Berlin and Susan Isakoff Berlin, authors
Peter J. Welling, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company, Fiction, Sept. 2010
Suitable for: Ages 5-8
Themes: Hanukkah, Jewish Fiction, Rhyme
Opening: In the town of Oyville, in a land far away, the children prepared for each holiday. They read about Passover and the Red Sea parting. They learned of Rosh Hashanah and the New Year starting. But the holiday that tickled every Vicki, Max and Monica, was the Festival of Lights in the season of Hanukkah. They liked the presents, the food, and the cheer; They liked the night when the family drew near. They picture Judah Maccabee, his bravery and toil. They imagined the Temple, it lights needing oil. When the menorah shone bright, its message was clear: “A great miracle happened here.” Not everyone in Oyville liked the celebration of Hanukkah. Every year the town Kvetch (someone who is gloomy and complains) hated the holiday even more. The Kvetch steals all the menorahs on the first night of Hanukkah until three children teach him the true meaning of the festival of lights.
Why I like this book: Although it is reminiscent of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, this really is a book that both Jewish and non-Jewish children will enjoy. Written in verse, it is filled with clever Yiddish terms like latkes, dreidels, gelt and the kvetch. The book is simple and Welling’s illustrations are colorful and quirky. And it carries a profound universal message. There are many Hanukkah books in print, but I found this one a lot of fun! Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 20 and ends December 28.
Activity: Visit http://www.lookstein.org/resources/chanukah_activities.htm and http://abcteach.com/directory/seasonalholidays/hanukkah/ for activities and resources. For more books with resources please visit Perfect Picture Books.