Monday, November 30, 2020

Three New Haunkkah Books

 Hanukkah is coming up on December 10 -18 this year and I've got three great new Hanukkah books for you today. While lots of Hanukkah books give you the formulaic eight-Hanukkah-activities spiel, all three of these picture books go beyond that basic premise for some really fun stories. 

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The Eight Knights of Hanukkah by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Galia Bernstein. Ages 4-8. Holiday House, 2020. 

Eight sibling knights must save the holiday for a community whose Hanukkah preparations are being interrupted by a dastardly dragon. As the knights quest to perform acts of "awesome kindness", they replace a scorched dreidel, help peel potatoes, perform mitzvahs, and fry donuts until they have a table piled high with treats, ready for a celebration. And of course the not-so-bad dragon attends as well (very handy for lighting menorahs with flame-breath). This is a sweetly funny story that capitalizes on the wordplay in the title. 

The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol

The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol by Arthur A. Levine, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Ages 4-8. Candlewick, 2020. 

With the aim of introducing a new mythological figure to Hanukkah (think about Rudolf or Santa Claus in regards to Christmas), this bright, own-voices picture book presents Nate Gadol, a magical being with the power to make objects stretch. From making one night's worth of lamp oil stretch for 8 nights to stretching out a meager portion of chocolate so there's enough for all the children or stretching much-needed medicine for a neighbor's baby, Nate Gadol is there. The name Nate Gadol is a play on the Hebrew phrase "New Gadol", which means "a great miracle". This is a clever addition to seasonal mythology. 

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Shahar Kober. Ages 4-8. Sterling, 2020. 

When the first night of Hanukkah falls just after their family moves to a new apartment, mom can't find the menorah and they just order pizza instead of making latkes. It's nice, but not quite the same Hanukkah they're used to. As they continue the search for their Hanukkah supplies in the moving boxes, the two children approach their new neighbors and find substitutes - birthday candles instead of Hanukkah candles, chocolate chips instead of gelt. The family's creative in their celebrations and then to thank their neighbors, they invite everyone over the night after the last night of Hanukkah and - miracle! - their lost moving box shows up with all their Hanukkah supplies. 

This is a sweet and clever story that may have special resonance this year as we're all figuring out new ways to have holiday celebrations and mark special events. I love the clever ways these enterprising kids find to replicate their Hanukkah traditions even though they don't have the things they normally would. And it has a wonderful message about helping and thanking those that help us.