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2011, Genre: children's books, Genre: picture books, Publisher: Holiday House, Publisher: McSweeney's, Publisher: Scholastic

Chanukah Picture Book Round-Up

A round-up of new Chanukah-themed books out this Fall 2011.

‘Tis the season, after all – Happy first night of Chanukah!

Chanukah Lights
by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Robert Sabuda
9780763655334, $34.99

From a pop-up master and an acclaimed poet and author comes a glorious celebration of the true spirit of Chanukah.

Open this beautiful gift book and follow the Festival of Lights through place and time — from Herod’s temple to a shtetl in Russia; from a refugee ship bound for the New World to an Israeli kibbutz. Inspired by Michael J. Rosen’s reverent poem, Robert Sabuda’s striking pop-ups depict each night’s menorah in a different scene, using imagery such as desert tents, pushcart lanterns, olive trees, and a final panorama of skyscrapers. Sure to be a treasured family heirloom, this stunning collaboration showcases the spirit and resilience of a people in search of home.

That book is honestly the only new Chanukah book published in 2011 that’s worth mentioning. And by worth mentioning, I mean is up to my personal standard for both beauty of illustration and enticement of story.

Luckily, there are some classic children’s Chanukah books that I can include in this round-up (most of them by Eric A. Kimmel:

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
9780823411313, Holiday House

A traveler rids a village synagogue of ghosts in this Caldecott Honor Book. The best part is doing the different voices for the different goblins that appear to Hershel each night. That Hershel – such a trickster. (A childhood favorite.)

The Chanukkah Guest
by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Giora Carmi
9780823409785, Holiday House

Almost blind and deaf, a woman mistakes a visiting bear for a rabbi. Hilarity ensues. (A childhood favorite.)

Latkes and Applesauce: a Hanukkah story
by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Robin Spowart
9780590422659, Scholastic

A Hanukkah miracle occurs as a poor family opens their doors to those less fortunate than even them. (A childhood favorite.)

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story
by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown
9781932416879, McSweeney’s Books 

Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of “The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, ” but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights. (An adulthood favorite.)

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