Hanukkah Books

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Asher and the Capmakers
Asher and the Capmakers

By Eric A. Kimmel
Asher's mother needs eggs to make latkes on the night before Hanukkah. The young boys set out to borrow an egg from a neighbor. He gets lost in a blizzard and is magically taken to Jerusalem. The adventure gets more and more complicated until Asher develops a clever plan for returning home.

from Children's Literature

Eric Kimmel manages to combine tales from Irish, English, and Eastern European folklore in this fanciful story. When Asher's mother needs some eggs to make latkes, Asher offers to go to borrow an egg from a neighbor. This sets into motion a series of events including a blizzard, a trapped fox, a group of capmakers, and a magical trip to Jerusalem. Asher finds himself in a situation where he may be trapped in Jerusalem forever (or hanged on the orders of the pasha) until he comes up with a clever way to go home. Children will love the fantasy setting and the characters Asher meets along the way. A brief author's note explains the origin of a number of the themes and terms used in the story. An excellent choice for preschoolers and early elementary-aged children.

Lori's Description

Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah

By Michael J. Rosen
In this nonfiction picture book, Rosen and DiSalvo-Ryan have presented an informative, yet enjoyable, book about the history and celebration of Hanukkah. The reader steps into a typical middle-class Jewish family with three children (and a dog) as they celebrate this important Jewish holy time. Told by the elder son who appears to be eight or nine, the story would be good to introduce either Jewish or non-Jewish children to the customs of Hanukkah. The colorful illustrations present the family and their home as one most children would find comfortable and inviting. Love abounds in this family--love for one another, their extended family, and their non-Jewish friends who are invited to share in one night of their celebration. The lessons of understanding and appreciation for different cultural and religious traditions are presented in a subtle, yet impressive, way.

Description from Children's Literature

Rosen follows a family through their traditional celebration of Hanukkah. After each activity, there's an explanation of its meaning in the context of the original miracle. On the first night, they read the story of Judah Maccabee and the narrator comments that "nobody in that story gave Hanukkah presents....They were just glad to be free to be Jews." The second night they go to Grandma's and Grandpa's, where Grandma fixes latkes fried in oil. The third night they fix up some of their toys and clothes that they don't think they'll use next year. "Mom likes to remind us that Jews believe in tzedakah, which means that even little kids have something extra they can share." Other nights find them going to the temple party, inviting friends to their home, playing dreidel, bringing their gifts to a shelter, and helping a Christian family trim their tree. "Did I tell you that our Hanukkah is also about people of different religions living alongside one another?" The eighth and last night is for Dad's summary of the meaning, the miracle, and the lights. Every page of this book is a quiet celebration. DiSalvo's paintings are soft and impressionistic, yet full of joy and sweet details of the loving family, their friends, and their faith.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah features a family celebrating Hanukkah with new twists on old traditions. They use their great-grandmother's silver menorah ("the oldest thing in the house"). Before the family members can receive gifts, they go through their old clothes and toys and wrap them in homemade paper to donate to a local shelter. They also include their non-Jewish neighbors in their Hanukkah celebrations, and even bring their menorah to their neighbor's house so they can light the menorah while their neighbor trims the Christmas tree. This is a superb book for helping families institute new traditions, especially those involving tzedekeh and friendship.

Lori's Description

Inside-Out Grandma :
A Hanukkah Story

By Joan Rothenberg
"Why do you have your clothes inside-out?" asks Rosie, and so begins a delightful story that twists and turns as Grandma explains. Inside-out clothes remind Grandma of her son, Rosie's father, who never dressed carefully; and her son reminds Grandma of her late husband, Reuben. Thinking of Reuben's red hair brings to mind a shiny new penny, and from there it's a short leap to Hanukkah gelt. . . Somehow, Grandma does bring the story full circle, so that inside-out clothes result in reminding Grandma to buy lots of oil for frying her delicious potato pancakes for the holiday party. Despite the story's distinctive Jewish parameters, kids of many ethnic persuasions may recognize a grandmother who likes to tell stories as well as enjoy the warmth that a family celebration can engender. The gouache-and-pencil artwork is chock-full of memories and decorated with festive borders.

Description from Booklist

The Tie Man's Miracle :
A Chanukah Story

By Steven Schnur
Chanukah, the Jewish celebration of miracles, is a wonderfully fitting backdrop for this unquestionably sentimental but beautifully told story of little wonders. The arrival of elderly Mr. Hoffman, who sells ties from a cardboard box he carries with him, makes seven-year-old Seth impatient. It's the last night of Chanukah, and Seth wants to get on with the traditional lighting of the candles. But Seth's parents -- wise, kind, and not so hurried -- urge the old man to join their celebrations. Mr. Hoffman stays and, in answering Seth's nosy questions about his family, explains about the Holocaust and tells a legend that stretches back to his boyhood: if all nine candles on the menorah burn down at the same time, a wish will travel "straight to the ear of G-d."

Schnur leaves plenty of room for adults to introduce information about the Holocaust (which he describes only as "a terrible war" ) to children if they feel the time is right, and although there's a sense of miracles in the making (as expected, the candles burn down together), there's no pushy resolution: Seth is left to wonder whether, indeed, his generous wish for the old man really comes true. Johnson's fluid watercolors are really quite fine, giving all the characters, especially Mr. Hoffman, substance, individuality, and dignity. Not simply a book about the holiday, this quiet, heartfelt, affirmative intergenerational story speaks to the bonds that hold us all fast and to our belief in miracles. Ideal for lap sharing and for using with small groups.

Description from Booklist

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

By Barbara Soloff-Levy
Celebrate the Festival of Lights! This affordably priced activity book features the miraculous story of Hanukkah plus plenty of pages to color and puzzles to solve.

Description from Publisher
The Ugly Menorah
The Ugly Menorah

By Marissa Moss
On the first Hanukkah since Rachel's grandpa died, Rachel is keeping her grandma company. "Where is your menorah, Grandma?" Racel asks. When Grandma points to a plain wooden board with tin cylinders, Rachel can't help crying, "It's so ugly!" Then Rachel listens as Grandma tells the menorah's history, and Grandpa seems to fill the house again.

Description from Publisher

Rachel spends the first Hanukkah since her grandfather died at her grandmother's house. She misses her grandfather terribly and the house just doesn't seem the same without him. When it comes time to light the Hanukkah candles, Rachel's grandmother doesn't use a shiny silver menorah like her parents do, but she instead uses a simple wooden board wtih small tin cylinders. When Rachel comments how ugly it is, her grandmother tells the Depression-era story of how her grandfather made the menorah out of scraps when they couldn't afford a store-bought menorah. She finally comes to realize that the wooden menorah is beautiful and she comes to feel that her grandfather is with her again. Marissa Moss effectively brings together themes of dealing with the loss of a grandparent with the Hanukkah time that children will most often feel their grandparent's absence. Children will be able to relate to Rachel's sense of loss. Parents can use this as a springboard for discussions on ways to remember lost grandparents or how heirlooms represent family history.

Lori's Description

The Eight Nights of Hanukkah

By Judy Nayer
Rebecca, Josh, and their family celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah in this full-color story and activity book all in one! Readers will learn the story of Hanukkah; its traditions and songs; and how to make a menorah, a dreidel, a picture frame, potato latkes, and more!

Description from Publisher

Happening Hanukkah: Creative Ways to Celebrate

By Debra Mostow Zakarin
Add a little shimmer to Hanukkah by creating personalized gifts for your family and friends. From jewelry to edible treats, this how-to guide is perfect for making this holiday special.

Description from Publisher

This how-to book focuses on how to create homemade Hanukkah gifts and how to throw a perfect Hanukkah party (complete with recipes, songs, and games to play). While some projects have a more secular feel (i.e., friendship bracelets), others are clearly for Hanukkah (wooden and edible menorahs). Incidentally, the recipes for the Hanukkah party include three Israeli dishes and a latkes recipe is only tucked in the back. Overall, this is a good book for creative Hanukkah projects.

Lori's Description

Hanukkah Fun : Great Things to Make and Do

By Judy Bastyra
Begin the holiday by making a menorah, one with specially decorated candles. Have fun singing some holiday songs or playing with a newly crafted dreidl, and don"t forget to send friends handmade Hanukkah cards you've made yourself.

Description from Publisher

Hanukkah Trivia: Over 150 Fascinating Facts About Hanukkah

By Jennie Miller Helderman & Mary Caulkins
Filled with fascinating facts about the midwinter Jewish holiday, this charming little book is a must for everyone's shopping list. What is the right way to spell Hanukkah? What is the origin of eating cheese at Hanukkah? Where did the most distant celebration of the holiday take place? When was the first Hanukkah postage stamp issued in the United States? You'll have hours of fun discovering the answers to these and 146 other captivating questions that will light up your menorah.

Description from Publisher

One Yellow Daffodil :
A Hanukkah Story
  • An NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

    What a beautifully written story about the rekindling of light in the life of a Holocaust survivor! Morris Kaplan leads a quiet existence, surrounded by the beautiful blossoms in his shop and looking forward only to the frequent visits of Ilana and Jonathan, who buy flowers for Shabbat and special occasions. He shows his appreciation by loading them up with far more bouquets than their few dollars could actually purchase; they reciprocate by inviting him to celebrate Hanukkah with their family. The warmth and joy of their holiday observance melts the ice which has long encased his sad memories, and Morris himself blooms again, as did the flower of the title in the dark days of Auschwitz. The pictures are stunning, from deepest darks to glorious lights, and the tilted faces lend a legendary quality to this touching tale.

    Description from Children's Literature

    This understated picture book effectively tells the story of a Holocaust survivor in a subtle way that doesn't overwhelm young children. Morris Kaplan is a Holocaust survivor who runs a neighborhood flower shop. He befriends Ilana and Jonathan Becker who invite him to their house to celebrate Hanukkah. He hasn't celebrated Hanukkah since his childhood in Poland, but Ilana and Jonathan won't accept "no" for an answer. They light candles, sing songs, play dreidels, and chat after dinner. The evening inspires Morris to take out the menorah that belonged to his family. He thinks about life in Auschwitz and about how a yellow daffodil gave him the strength to survive; if a flower can survive in such a dark place, so could he. He brings his menorah and tells his story to the Beckers who give him his first sense of family since the Holocaust. David Adler brings an emotional story to a young audience. The horrors of the Holocaust are only hinted at, but children can grasp the concept that it was a sad time. The dark, muted watercolors convey the depth of emotions Morris feels.

    Lori's Description

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