In Maria Russo’s review of holiday books for children in the New York Times, she included Pamela Ehrenburg’s Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas. Downloading the book to my iPhone for this first night of Hanukkah, I found its bright and colorful pictures. Instead of the traditional latkes, this family makes Indian dosas, and the big brother sings a dreidel song to calm his little sister – with a revised verse changing the recipe for latkes from potatoes to dal.
To continue through the Festival of Lights, I looked for seven more books:
Way Too Many Latkes
Aleksandar Zolotic’s version of the classic “Strega Nona” stories by Tomie dePaola, changing magical pots of pasta for latkes.
The Chanukkah Guest
Eric Kimmel’s story starts on the first night of Chanukkah when Bubba Brayna, who is nearly blind and deaf, mistakes a bear for the rabbi she is expecting for dinner. She innocently tries to tug off the “rabbi’s” coat and then feeds the “rabbi” latkes – it gets funnier and funnier – a great read aloud book.
The Golem’s Latkes
Eric Kimmel writes a Hanukkah story connected with the legend of the golem, a lump of clay magically come to life. When Rabbi Judah hires a new housemaid to clean house and make latkes for the coming holiday, he gives her permission to use the golem as her helper – but things get out of hand.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel
A 1990 Caldecott Honor Book – Hershel of Ostropol approaches a village on the first night of Hanukkah but a group of goblins has taken over the synagogue, and the villagers cannot celebrate. Hershel outwits the goblins in a story mixing a Ukranian folktale with Charles Dickens.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket
Instead of the gingerbread man escaping from the cookie pan, a latke runs away from the skillet. As he runs into assorted Christmas characters – a candy cane, pine tree, Christmas lights – he tries to explain the Jewish holiday but his attempts are always in vain and he runs away from each encounter in a fit of frustration until he is finally rescued and returned. In Lemony Snicker form, the latke gets eaten.
Dreidels on the Brain by Joel Ben Izzy
A finalist for 2016 National Jewish Book Award, this middle school book follows Joel, a twelve year old, through eight nights of Hanukkah. “Joel, who only wishes to live unseen, is on display at the winter holiday assembly with his parents and older brothers…With each succeeding chapter, the reader loves Joel more, cheering for him to star in his magic show, get the best of the dreidel spins, and find his miracles in dreidels, candles, or other signs (Ellen Cole for the Jewish Book Council).”
And finally, listen to Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Bownon for free on Storyline – here …
Molly Ephrain reads this children’s book: “…A little girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating… It’s not until the last night of Hanukkah that a familiar holiday tradition provides the perfect–and surprising–solution…(Publishers Weekly)”