New books, music light up Hanukkah



New books, music light up Hanukkah

When Ilan Stavans was growing up in Mexico, his family lived in a neighborhood far from the center of the Jewish community. At Janucá, the Spanish name for Hanukkah, Stavans, now a professor of Latin Studies at Amherst College, enjoyed teaching his non-Jewish friends how to play the dreidel game.
Thousands of miles north of the border, Linda Elovitz Marshall grew up in Newton (her father was the co-owner of the legendary Building 19). Her fondest memory of Hanukkah was when her Nonnie (grandmother) let her pick out her very own book at a local shop.

All these years later, she has achieved her childhood dream of becoming a children’s book writer, and is now the award-winning author of more than 20 books.
These two engaging storytellers have teamed up for “The Mexican Dreidel,” a delightful book, the first children’s book penned by Stavans, a widely acclaimed and popular scholar of Latin and Yiddish cultures.

It’s one of many outstanding new Hanukkah books for kids.

Among the other notable titles is “Beni’s Tiny Tales: Around the Jewish Year in Holidays” by award-winning author and artist Jane Breskin Zalben. It’s a milestone for Zalben. Beni debuted 35 years ago in a series of books about a young Jewish bear and his extended family as they celebrate Jewish holidays. Beni is back with kids of his own in this treasury that boasts new stories and illustrations.

“Where Do Diggers Celebrate Hanukkah?”
Brianna Caplan Sayres; illustrated by Christian Slade
Random House for Young Readers; baby-age 3

In this rhyming board book (part of a bestselling series), kids discover Hanukkah celebrations in unlikely places, from construction sites to delivery trucks and even a food truck serving sufganiyot, fried jelly doughnuts for the holiday.

“The Mexican Dreidel”
Linda Elovitz Marshall and Ilan Stavans; illustrated by Maria Mola
Kar-Ben publishing; ages 4-8.

In this charmer of a story, kids meet Danielito, a Jewish-Mexican boy who loves celebrating Janucá. When Danielito visits his Bobe (grandmother) for Janucá, he wonders if the non-Jewish kids in the neighborhood will let him use the wooden dreidel she gave him in their game of trompos, played with a small Mexican top. Young kids will be enchanted when Danielito’s dreidel takes a magical spin. Maria Mola’s colorful, lively illustrations embellish the upbeat Hanukkah tale that introduces Jewish-Mexican Hanukkah traditions and treats.

Hanukkah Upside Down
Elissa Brent Weissman; illustrated by Omer Hoffman
Harry N. Abrams; ages 4-8

Noah lives in New York where he celebrates Hanukkah with winter fun. Across the globe in New Zealand, his cousin Nora celebrates the joyful holiday in summer. A friendly contest for the best Hanukkah reveals that even though they live on opposite sides of the earth, Nora and Noah share Jewish traditions. Elissa Brent Weissman’s fun story is perfectly paired with Omer Hoffman’s whimsical illustrations.

“Latke’s First Hanukkah”
Alan Silberberg
Viking; baby-age 3

The youngest ones will giggle along with Alan Silberberg’s playful, humorous board book about celebrating Hanukkah with a family of latkes and their friends.

Sir Frank London and the Klezmer Brass Allstars
Borscht Beat Records; all ages

Cue the music for this rollicking disco-style Hanukkah dance party that will have everyone on their feet. The first two tracks are re-imagined Hanukkah classics, which are remixed for the last two tracks. The recording blends Klezmer, Hasidic, world music and electronica, and boasts an A-list of musicians.

“Out and About: A Tale of Giving”
Liza Wiemer; illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
Kalaniot Books; ages 4-9

One early wintry morning, a young Jewish boy named Daniel wakes up early and sees his father carrying a box across their snow-covered yard. Daniel is determined to find out where his father is going with the mystery box. This heartwarming, timely story shines a light on tzedakah, the Jewish mitzvah of helping others. Margeaux Lucas’s large, animated illustrations add the welcome element of a racially diverse class of kids at Daniel’s Jewish school. Θ

Beni’s Tiny Tales: Around the Year in Jewish Holidays
Jane Breskin Zalben
Christy Ottaviano Books; ages 4-8

In this beautifully illustrated book, masterful storyteller and artist Jane Breskin Zalben has created a treasury for celebrating Jewish holidays with Beni, a Jewish bear, his children, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The book features delightful stories along with songs, recipes and activities for each holiday. Hanukkah includes instructions for making a menorah; the dreidel song and recipes for latkes, and more.

“Eight Nights of Lights: A Celebration of Hanukkah”
Leslie Kimmelman; illustrated by Hilli Kushnir
Harper Collins; ages 4-8

When young kids open this brilliantly colored book, they are in for a mesmerizing surprise. The interactive book opens to a cleverly-designed double-page menorah. Each paper candle holder has a pocket with a pull-out story of a young girl celebrating Hanukkah with her multiracial Jewish family and friends. Kids can flip the booklet and slip it back into its pocket to “light” the candle with the illustrated flame.

In addition to these great books, a lively new CD has arrived for the holiday – “Chronika,” by Frank London, the Grammy award-winning Klezmer bandleader.


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