A Chanukah Noel

Chanukah Noel9781897187746_p0_v1_s260x420A Chanukah Noel

Sharon Jennings, Author

Gillian Newland, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Moving to a foreign country,  Feeling left out, Chanukah, Christmas, Friendship

Opening:  “One day, Daddy came home from work and said, “I have a big surprise.  We are going to live in France.”  I wasn’t so sure I liked this surprise, but I left home with Mommy and Daddy and sailed all the way across the ocean. 

Synopsis:  Charlotte and her family move to France.  She doesn’t speak the language and is put in a lower grade.  She finds that foods in her French village some times taste and smell strange.  Many of her classmates are friendly, except Colette.  At Christmas the village is beautifully decorated.  Charlotte is Jewish and wants to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas.  She’s disappointed when her mother tells her they will celebrate Chanukah.  At least, at school she can participate in the festivities of decorating the class and bringing a gift.  When Charlotte discovers that Colette is poor and won’t be able to celebrate Christmas either, she sets aside her hurt feelings and comes up with a plan to help her friend and celebrate both holidays.

Why I like this story:   Sharon Jennings has written a charming story based on the true story of her friend.  Readers never learn the origin of Charlotte’s country, only that she is Jewish and she finds Christmas in France exciting.   It is also a story about feeling left out.  But, Charlotte shows a lot of compassion and helps a poor classmate enjoy Christmas with her family.  I enjoyed the story, but wished there was a little more shown about Charlotte’s Jewish Chanukah tradition.  Gillian Newland’s illustrations are rich and capture both the holiday spirit and the feeling of a timeless French village.

Resources:  Chanukah or Hanukkah activities for children and teachers can be found at this website.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “A Chanukah Noel

  1. Love it! We’re not Jewish, but we recognize the Jewish roots of Christianity by celebrating Hanukkah in our own way every year. We light the candles, remember the Macabee story and identify the types of Christ found within it, and one night of the eight–whatever one works in our schedule–we make latkes and other fried foods. Yum! It’s a fun and educational tradition with the kids.


    • I really think that is so wonderful that you recognize the Jewish roots of Christianity by celebrating Hunukkah with your children every year. Your kids must enjoy helping prepar latkes and other Jewish foods. You are such a great teacher and Mom. We aren’t Jewish, but have a beautiful brass Menorah on our mantel. My house is filled with artwork from various traditions.


  2. It is amazing how sometimes, when people behave in strange ways, we take it personally; when in fact, there might be a problem of a different nature causing upset. This is such an important lesson ~ not to jump to conclusions.


  3. Charming seems to be the word for this one. I don’t know much about Hanukkah, but the story sounds like a good one and I like the cover illustration a lot. I’ll be checking this one out. Thanks!


  4. Sounds like a very sweet book with some good lessons in compassion. I may try to pick this one up for my son. Thanks for reviewing!


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