Chanukah, Oh Chanukah
Misha, a poor artist, has no one to celebrate Chanukah with — until he finds a lucky little cat, whom he names Mazel, in his barn. In A Hanukkah with Mazel (Kar-Ben) by Joel Edward Stein and illustrated by Elisa Vavouri, set in the outskirts of an Old World shtetl, Misha finds creative ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights using his paints and brushes — and readers will have fun finding Mazel in every scene.
Dreidels on the Brain (Penguin Random House) by Joel ben Izzy is a very funny, very touching story about 12-year-old Joel trying to survive Chanukah in a 1971 Los Angeles suburb. A nerdy magician and the only Jew at his school, Joel is betting everything on these eight nights to see whether it’s worth believing in God, miracles or anything at all.
Whimsical bunnies invite their animal friends to celebrate Chanukah with them in Hanukkah Delight (Kar-Ben), a charming rhyming board book. Award-winning writer and poet Leslea Newman and illustrator Amy Husband create a warm introduction to Chanukah traditions.
Chanukah Lights (Candlewick) was published in 2011, but it remains a stunning classic to be included on any gift-giving list. Pop-up master Robert Sabuda’s intricate and inventive paper engineering brings to life the solemn words of acclaimed poet Michael J. Rosen, guiding the reader through a journey of the Festival of Lights in different places and times — from Herod’s temple to a shtetl in Russia.
First introduced in Tashlich at Turtle Rock, Annie and her family are back to celebrate Chanukah in Potatoes at Turtle Rock (Kar-Ben) by Susan Schnur (a Reconstructionist rabbi), Anna Schnur-Fishman (her daughter) and illustrated by Alex Steele-Morgan. Embarking on an outdoor nighttime journey through the snowy woods around their small farm, the family creates their own Chanukah rituals.
Michigan-native Rick Morrison was inspired to co-write (with his daughter, Shana) The Hug Store (Veronica Lane Books) when Shana, then 5, told her grandpa she was all out of hugs. After searching at shops to buy a hug for him, she makes an important discovery. The Hug Store also features a list of reasons why hugs are healthy — plus a warning about “safe” hugging.
The Original Tale of Sara n’ Dippity by J.S. Silverstein — who has family in Metro Detroit — tells the tale of a lonely girl who meets a hapless young duck and how the pair become guardian angels. The allegorical tale is available on iBook and in book form. Sarandippity.co.
Clean Jewish humor still delivers in The Silly World of Chelm (Two Lights) by Shepsel and Avraham. Introduce the kids to the beloved town of Chelm, the fabled town where solving life’s practical problems always becomes a rollicking journey. For decades, the tales were printed in the pages of the Jewish Press — for the first time, more than 150 stories are collected in one book.