By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown
Ages 6 & up, 24 pages
Lemony Snicket is most often recognized for his A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. This is a humorous story about a latke or a potato pancake eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah. The latke began screaming when it was heated in a pan full of oil. So what’s a toasted latke to now do? Well of course it then jumps out of the hot pan and out the window. It ran down the street past flashing Christmas lights who angrily shout that they are the ones to make cheer. The flashing lights believe he’s just hash browns, but the latke screams that it’s completely different. It then comes across a candy cane who’s upset that the screaming is spoiling the peppermint scent. The latke responds that its smell symbolizes the feeling of Hanukkah. The candy cane states that someone should write a Christmas carol about it. Of course, the latke screams that it’s not part of Christmas and it’s a completely different thing. The latke continues to scream until it stumbles into a forest. Finally, a family finds the latke and takes it home to eat for their Hanukkah dinner with applesauce and sour cream. The last pages explain that it’s sometimes difficult to be understood and makes you want to scream, but everything should be welcomed somewhere. The latke was welcome in a home where people understood it and fit perfectly during the Hanukkah celebration.
by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote
Ages 6-9, 32 pages
Rachel is super excited to celebrate Hanukkah, but her parents remind her that it’s not time yet. Instead, Rachel decides to spread the holiday cheer and visits her neighbor, Mrs. Greensberg. Mrs. Greensberg’s house is always clean and she feels empty all by herself especially during Hanukkah. Rachel wants to make latkes, but Mrs. Greenberg reminds her that it takes work. They get to work, but it soon becomes a messy production as Rachel makes mistakes. As she grates the potatoes, Rachel’s pile falls off the floor. Rachel decides to help clean the mess and begins mopping the floor, but this creates another mushy mess. Mistakes continue, but they finally produce delicious latkes. Mrs. Greenberg never complains, since what’s a little mess between friends. I thought this was a delightful book about how an older woman and young girl celebrate Hanukkah together.
by Deborah da Costa, illustrated by Gosia Mosz
Ages 6 & up, 32 pages
Isobel visits her Aunt Luisa for a Hanukkah party and to celebrate the Hanukkah Moon. Aunt Luisa just returned from Mexico and displays ‘Feliz Januca’ for Happy Hanukkah and even has a piñata shaped like a dreidal. Isobel notices the unique menorah with animals. Aunt Luisa states that she made it and got the idea from her backyard friends, but there’s no animals when Isobel looks out the window. The first night Isobel receives a camera and Aunt Luisa teaches her photography. Aunt Luisa’s photography students celebrate the evening and she puts out fruits outside for special visitors. They learn about the moon celebration and Rosh Hodesh, which is the beginning of the month with a new moon that celebrates women who refused to give their gold to help build the idol of the golden calf at Mt. Sinai. Aunt Luisa takes everyone outside and they find animal visitors eating the fruit. Isobel asks where the Hanukkan Moon is in the sky, since she can’t find it. Aunt Luisa explains that the luna nueva or new moon faces away and will appear tomorrow night. Isobel leaves Aunt Luisa’s house with special memories that she shares with her family.
I thought Hanukkah Moon was a great book about positive family relationships, cultural elements, and learning about Hanukkah. The illustrations are colorful and highlight the story’s meaning.
by Sharon Jennings, illustrated by Gillian Newland
Ages 8 & up, 24 pages
Charlotte’s family moves to France and she’s not happy since everything is different and she’s called a foreigner. She’s placed in a lower grade and her mother tells her that she’ll catch up when other’s have their holiday, which is Christmas. Charlotte doesn’t want to study hard while others celebrate. Her mother reminds her that they’re Jewish and celebrate Chanukah. She feels left out, since all over there are Christmas decorations, treats, and toys. Her class has a holiday party and a classmate, Colette, who teased her states that she forgot a gift for the trade. Charlotte believes it’s silly that she forgot until she learns that Colette is poor and can’t afford a class Christmas gift. Charlotte thinks of an idea to bring a hint of Christmas while celebrating Chanukah. Charlotte’s family help provide Christmas for Colette’s family with food and gifts.
I thought this was an enjoyable book that highlights that even though individuals may celebrate different holidays, the spirit of generosity remains the same. Charlotte didn’t exactly celebrate Christmas herself, but she learned that a good deed forms friendship and cheers others. A Chanukah Noel can be especially helpful if a family celebrates more than more than one holiday.