A wide-eyed animal-loving young girl celebrates Hanukkah with her family, hoping for the gift of a pet, such as a puppy, kitten, bird or hamster. Instead, on the first night, she receives a hard metal lamp. On the second night, she gets a “strange kind of thermometer.” On the third night, she gets a squirty spray bottle. Things are becoming confusing! To add to the puzzlement, her grandma is receiving odd gifts, as well: chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks, a tiny bottle of vanilla and candied cranberries. As the clues grow, children will have fun trying to guess what the eighth night will bring. For Grandma, it turns out to be the ingredients for a family favorite holiday treat: Cranberry Chocolate Chip Hanukkah Kugel. (Recipe included.) By the last night, the delighted little girl has received all she needs for her new pet — an unexpected iguana!
There is a lot to this simple story for young children. Besides the eight candles, there are the eight different gifts to count, along with eight different kinds of latkes served (potato, carrot, turnip, beet, etc.) The illustrations are charming and reflect a newer trend in Jewish children’s books regarding realistic depictions of grandparents. Here, Grandma is not sporting gray hair or wearing pearls and a dress, but appears to be a slim, hip-looking 60-something with a purple-striped turtleneck and leggings. All the male characters are wearing kippot, which also serves as a teachable moment in many homes. A fun and appealing new Hanukkah story to share with animal-loving children. -- Lisa Silverman, Director, Burton Sperber Jewish Community Library, retrieved from https://jewishjournal.com/culture/books/308705/hanukkah-books-are-scarce-yiddish-is-trending/