Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The no-review review...

I cannot tell you about my favorite Chanukah picture book because....

As far as I know, no truly amazing Chanukah-book-for-kids has yet been written.

And I don't mean an acceptable book. I don't mean a "Wee-ell, it's pretty good, and the pictures are nice, and if we don't give them something they'll read Frosty the snow-man or How Little Bun-Bun Went to Jesus Land..."

I mean GOOD! Nothing GOOD is out there... GOOD like Christmas has good stuff. Good like the Peanuts Special, or the Christmas chapter in Little House in the Big Woods where Laura gets a WHOLE penny, all for herself. Gift of the Magi GOOD or A Christmas Carol GOOD.

Why is this? Why does Christmas only require a special time of year and "spirit", and so it can do a whole range of things... but Chanukah sends us to pancakes and dreidels and candles and that's IT! Why can't there be a Chanukah "spirit" with which to infuse books, so that we might abandon our oily foods as a theme?

Oily foods are NOT A THEME!

And one gets tired of the Maccabees. And the pogroms. Didn't anyone ever celebrate Chanukah in any other place and time than Israel, Poland/Poland-ish place, or [insert present-day name of wherever you happen to be]. Weren't there Chanukahs happening in like, Medieval England? The Wild West? Burlesque stages in the 30s?

Can you imagine if every bit of Christmas media was required to mention candycanes, paperchains, and Jesus?


Bring it on!

(and don't you dare send me to look for Moishe and his dumb fry-pan. I'm over the shtetl thing. And don't you DARE send me to look for Sammy the Spider. Sammy the Spider is sooooo last year.)


Anne Marie P said...


I'm not Jewish so haven't paid that much attention to Chanukah books, I'm afraid--I'm just mentioning this one because it's the one getting all the press this year.

Laurel said...

i think it's great, but not quite a chanukah-spirit book. too xmas referential.

it sucks that to be honest, in talking about chanukah you have to talk about xmas...

Tempest in a Teapot said...

One of my childhood favorites is Herschel and the Hannukah Goblins (Eric A. Kimmel)— it took some time to come up with the name! It was a Caldecott Honor Book, and a fun, creepy story, but sadly it's out-of-print these days. Available used from B&N.

I've also enjoyed reading Judah Who Always Said No (Harriet K. Feder) and Just Enough is Plenty (Barbara Diamond Goldin) aloud as a nanny in a mixed-tradition home.

literaticat said...

Ugh, this is a perpetual problem.

Tempest, HERSCHEL is so not out of print. Here's the isbn: 0823411311 - that bad boy isn't going anywhere for a while.

I kind of liked CONFUSED HANUKKAH, the illustrations were cute anyway, but it was just a Chelm story. If I'm gonna get Chelm stories, I'd get the Singer/Sendak version.

HANUKKAH AT VALLEY FORGE is interesting and beautiful, if a little too earnest for me.

WHEN THE CHICKENS WENT ON STRIKE and GERSHON'S MONSTER are good for Rosh Hashanah. I love the Chicken one, especially.

RAISEL'S RIDDLE is the only acceptable thing for Purim, and it isn't really entirely acceptable.

It is virtually impossible to find a good Yom Kippur thing, and any story of Jonah that I've found is Christian in some obvious way.

Forget about tu b'shevat. Get EYEWITNESS: TREES or something and call it a day.