Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Celebrate Hanukkah! Music and Books for the Season

Chanukah Lights

Hanukkah begins Saturday night. Celebrate Hanukkah with books, music, and stories that explore the holiday’s history and the traditions surrounding it.

Chanukah Lights 

by Michael Rosen, with illustrations and pop-up artwork by Robert Sabuda
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Hardcover Price: $34.99

This magnificent gift book celebrates the Festival of Lights by pairing the poetic talents of Michael J. Rosen with the artistry of Robert Sabuda’s ingenious paper sculptures. On each of eight nights, candles burn against the backdrop of the night sky to illuminate a setting in the rich history of this holiday: from an ancient temple to a tent in the desert; from a Russian shtetl to a refugee ship sailing on the open sea; from an olive grove on a kibbutz in the Promised Land to the heart of a vibrant city. Chanukah Lightsis a collectible treasure that will undoubtedly become part of many families’ annual holiday celebration.

Moishe’s Miracle

by Laura Krauss Melmed with illustrations by David Slonim
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hardcover Price: $15.95

This warm-hearted, appealing folktale tells of a latter-day Hanukkah miracle that befalls a poor milkman, Moishe, and his short-tempered wife, Baila. On the eve of the eight-day Festival of Lights, the couple is penniless, unable even to buy the eggs and flour needed to make the traditional Hanukkah latkes. The timely arrival of a battered frying pan with magical properties–it produces incredibly delicious latkes, “plump as little pillows, with edges like golden lace”–saves the day. Generous Moishe immediately shares his good fortune with all of his equally poor neighbors, but Baila sees their magic pan as a way to become rich. Greed makes her forget that the pan was a gift to Moishe and “only Moishe must use it.” In the ensuing chaos, Baila comes to appreciate Moishe’s goodness, and an even greater miracle of love and understanding changes their lives. David Slonim’s vibrant paintings of the Old World town of Wishniak and its inhabitants add immeasurably to the charm of author Melmed’s suspenseful cautionary tale. A worthy Hanukkah gift.

More Books:

On Hanukkah

By Cathy Fishman Ages 4-8, $16.00

Zigazak! A Magical Hanukkah Night 

by Eric Kimmel Ages 4-8, $15.95

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins 

Ages 4-8, $6.95

Elijah’s Angel 

by Michael Rosen Ages 4-8, $16.00


Music and stories for celebrating:

Lights & LaughterLights & Laughter: Joel ben Izzy Spins Hanukkah Tales

Artist: Joel ben Izzy

“Light is a funny thing; it’s around us all the time, but we only see it when it’s dark. The darker it gets, the brighter it shines.” Lights & Laughter, a charming, delightful, heart-warming, and uplifting group of traditional and new stories, is vintage ben Izzy.The appropriately numbered eight-story collection opens with an amusing version of the origin of Hanukkah. Parables, fairy tales and stories from his own life, are magic in the telling and listening. Joel ben Izzy’s stories are at once “grabbers” and timeless. “The Tale of a Shammes” walks listeners through a whirlwind of unexpected adventures – and arrives at a humorous conclusion about the value of learning to read and write. A treasure!

Shine Little Candles: Chanukah songs for children

Artist: Rachel Buchman

Accompanied by a chorus of children and friends, Rachel Buchman performs a collection of Chanukah songs in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino.

Sam GlaserSam Glaser’s Rockin Chanukah Revue

Artist: Sam Glaser

Think of a Jewish themed Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and you have a pretty fair approximation of Sam Glaser’s Rockin’ Chanukah Revue. The opening, horn and electric guitar infused “We Light The Lights” is a right-on rock and roll interpretation of the core teachings of Chanukah. “Dreidl Star!” is an hilarious Kiss-like rocker, while “Macabee” incorporates Lennon and McCartney’s “Let it Be” into a very silly retelling of the story of Judah Macabee.” Elsewhere, he rewrites “My Girl” to celebrate Jewish soul food, while “Chanukah History” uses a swinging blues riff to tell the main tale of Chanukah. “Eight Crazy Nights” uses the melody of “Twist and Shout,” coupled with an extremely tuneful kid chorus to great effect. This might not be the most orthodox method of learning about the Torah but you will find no kids complaining, and many adults will first fall down laughing, before they join in on the chorus and celebrate. Not to worry; this is fun and respectful.