Showing posts with label Hanukkah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hanukkah. Show all posts


Pancake City: The Golem's Latkes

When I first saw The Golem's Latkes I was skeptical. First, because I find the concept of the Golem a little creepy and second, because I confess I have failed to find many picture books about the Jewish holidays that inspire me. The ones I find in the library all seem to either feel the need to recount every historical detail of the event in full or are about spiders (Sammy, anyone?).

I don't read books about spiders. No matter how good other people say they are. Period.

But I digress.

In Eric Kimmel's latest Hanukkah offering, The Golem's Latkes, Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague crafts the legendary Golem from clay, writes a magical word on his forehead and then sets him to work with household chores. When his housemaid, Basha, requests the Golem to help her get ready for Hanukkah, the Rabbi reluctantly agrees but warns her not to leave the Golem alone or he will never stop working. Basha, impressed by the Golem's cooking skills, instructs him to continue making latkes while she pops out to gossip with her friend. Just for a minute, you understand. The Golem, true to his clay-for-brains form, makes latkes enough to fill the streets of Prague. When Rabbi Judah finally commands him to stop there are enough latkes to have what is essentially a city-wide latke block party -- for eight days. The story ends on the anticipatory high note while Basha contemplates if the Golem may also be skilled in the art of making hamantaschen for Purim.

I'm not an expert on either the Golem or on Jewish narratives so I will not make any authoritative statements about whether or not Rudolf II would actually attend a Hanukkah party given by Rabbi Loew (although I believe he was rather cosmopolitan), or whether or not the Golem would be set to work making latkes in lieu of defending the Jewish ghettos. Not to mention: hello? where did all the potatoes come from? I'm sure there are many narratives and many incarnations of the Golem and his story, so why not have a little fun with it.

The Golem's Latkes is an exceptionally fun read aloud for the holiday. It's playful, quirky and fortunately Aaron Jasiski's Golem is more cute than he is creepy. The setting of medieval Prague can't be beat and I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't like to attend a party with limitless latkes and wagons full of sour cream.

Latkes: they bring people together.

Want More?
The Whole Megillah has a lightening fast pros and cons of the book.
The New York Times likens the book to Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Eric Kimmel has written loads of other books: find out about them on his website.

Big Kid says: Are you making latkes this year?
Little Kid says: This is the book about cookies.


Festive City: Light the Lights!

Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And ChristmasMom says:
Admittedly, Light the Lights! is not my favorite book, it's just a going-though-the paces of getting ready for Hanukkah and then for Christmas from the point of view of a young girl in an interfaith household.  I'm including it though, because it is nice to have a book to read to my children who also celebrate both holidays. Also, of course, it is set in an urban neighborhood, which looks suspiciously like Brooklyn. I really like the illustration of an apartment building in which you can see a dental cleaning, ballet rehearsal, and a Hanukkah celebration all happening simultaneously. This is such a good image of the city's unique energy.

Big Kid says: We celebrate both holidays, too.
Little Kids says: Meow! [There is a cat in the book.]


Bright City: Chanukah Lights Everywhere

Chanukah Lights EverywhereMom says:
Chanukah is just around the corner! In Chanukah Lights Everywhere, the focus is on the secular. Noticeably absent is a retelling of the Chanukah story. Instead, as the lights of the menorah get lit night after night, the child narrator notices other lights around him: the moon, the stars, Christmas lights, etc. The family goes for a walk around their urban neighborhood and enjoy the candlelight from their neighbors' windows.

There is a (very) short synopsis of the Chanukah story in a note at the end of the book, as well as an explanation of the Chanukah candles. This book won't win any awards, but it is a nice change of pace from all the Chanukah picture books which focus on the religious aspect of the holidays.

Big Kid says: When are we going to light our menorah?
Little Kid says: Lights!
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