Check out these 10 new Chanukah books to read in between latkes and dreidel games this year.
By Carla Schwartz
From a furry friend to a fashion icon to a few bestsellers, here’s a list of new books for everyone in the family.
After you light the candles and spin the dreidel, the entire family can curl up with a good book. For children, Chanukah books reinforce the holiday while a book on self-esteem is always a boost. For busy parents, best-sellers are fast reads. For grandparents, a fashion icon coffee-table book, an academic read and some humorous poems make excellent additions to an established library. Children, parents and grandparents can always bond over a good book.
Grover’s Hanukkah Party
By Joni Kibort Sussman, Kar-Ben Publishing, $5.99
Grover and his Sesame Street friends think the number eight is great and count out all the essentials for the perfect Chanukah party. This board book is perfect for toddlers.
Kugel for Hanukkah
By Gretchen M. Everin, Kar-Ben Publishing, $7.99
A young girl is mystified by the unusual gifts she receives for Chanukah, while her grandma receives the ingredients to make a kugel. Each night, the mystery deepens for the young girl with gifts of a bowl, spray bottle and thermometer. On the last night, the doorbell rings with a special delivery — a pet iguana. She names her iguana Kugel. For ages 4-9.
Crocodile, You’re Beautiful
By Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Dena Nuesner. Apples & Honey Press, $17.95
With tenderness and humor, Dr. Ruth offers advice to the all the animals with body image and self-esteem issues. Turtle is slow and does not believe he is good at anything, but Dr. Ruth encourages him. So, he swims fast for his friends. Ant feels tiny, but Dr. Ruth points out how hard he works. His strength builds an anthill. Dr. Ruth suggests some exercises like jumping and feeling your muscles or looking in the mirror and saying my body is perfect for me. The cover reads Crocodile, You’re Beautiful and then underneath “Embracing our Strengths and Ourselves.” Dr. Ruth ends on a personal note saying when she was younger, she struggled with being short and was ridiculed. That’s why she decided to help others feel good about themselves and embrace their bodies. For ages 5-8.
The New Girl
By Daniel Silva, HarperCollins, $28.99
Gabriel Allon, the protagonist spy in Daniel Silva’s novels, makes his 19th appearance in The New Girl. When a mysterious student vanishes from an exclusive school, Allon is on the case. With international intrigue, unlikely alliances and global politics, the plot rapidly unfolds. This thriller will not disappoint Silva fans.
By Jennifer Weiner, Atria Simon & Schuster, $28
Two sisters with opposite personalities and a difficult mother create an interesting relationship triangle. Author Jennifer Weiner dives in with humor, warmth and charm. Her characters are unforgettable, and the locale is familiar — Detroit and Oakland County. Weiner makes some mistakes, like naming the city West Bloomfield Hills, but overlook it because the book is enjoyable with a twist.
Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality and a Deeper Connection to Life — in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There)
Sarah Hurwitz, Random House, $28
An introductory class on Judaism kindled a spark for author Sarah Hurwitz. At age 36, she chronicles her journey of discovering her religion and provides insights into Jewish beliefs. It’s written in a breezy, graceful style, and you would not expect anything less from Michelle Obama’s former head speechwriter. Hurwitz provides footnotes and an amazing appendix of books for exploring Judaism.
Ralph Lauren: In His Own Fashion
By Alan Flusser, Abrams Books, $50
This stunning coffee-table book chronicles the rise of fashion icon Ralph Lauren with beautiful photographs of his collections for men and women. He was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, and the first chapters read like a mini-biography from his birth to education to meeting his wife and his first job. This former tie salesman reinvigorates the classics and forever changes the polo shirt.
By Judith Viorst, Simon & Shuster, $17
Judith Viorst’s poems are candid, funny and original. So what if her knee replacement needs to be replaced or she’s listening to more eulogies than symphonies. Readers at any age need laughter, and Viorst is a master. Viorst has a book of poems for every decade since she turned 30.
And let’s not forget her beloved children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
We Stand Divided: The Rift Between Jews and Israel
By Daniel Gordis, Ecco HarperCollins, $26.99
Gordis delves into the differences in perspectives between American Jews and Israelis, dating from pre-State days to the present. Today, many American Jews are frustrated with Israel’s polices, while many Israelis believe Americans are out of touch with Israeli realities and issues. This book elicits an academic, thoughtful conversation.
Hanukkah in a Book:
Jacket comes off. Candles pop up. Display and celebrate! Uplifting Editions, Abrams Noterie, $16.99
Celebrate the story of Chanukah, by retelling the story and the significance of the holiday every night as each page produces a pop-up candle. Traditional prayers and songs are included. At the end, there is a beautiful menorah.
Children, parents and grandparents can read this together and create their own Festival of Lights. This unique book is an inspirational gift for all.
Carla Schwartz is a former JN columnist and magazine editor. Her blog is motownsavvy.com.