Kugel for Hanukkah?
As each of Hanukkah’s first seven nights brings an unusual new present to a little girl, the mystery deepens. While the gifts grandma receives add up to a delicious Hanukkah treat, her granddaughter’s gifts don’t seem to make much sense. Until the eighth night they finally do!
|Interest Level||Preschool - Grade 3|
|Reading Level||Grade 2|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®|
|Number of Pages||32|
Author: Gretchen M. Everin
Gretchen M. Everin wrote her first story when her oldest child was a baby and hasn't stopped since. When not writing, she volunteers in an elementary school library. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three children.
Illustrator: Rebecca Ashdown
Rebecca Ashdown is an award-winning and internationally published author and illustrator. She grew up on the south coast of England, where she spent most of her childhood running wild, drawing and writing, or lost in the pages of a book. She lives with her family in Stroud, UK.
“Kugel for Hanukkah?” by Gretchen M. Everin. Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown. (Kar-Ben Publishing)
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.
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“A young girl is mystified by the unusual gifts she receives for Chanukah, while her grandma receives the ingredients to make a kugel. Each night, the mystery deepens for the young girl with gifts of a bowl, spray bottle and thermometer. On the last night, the doorbell rings with a special delivery — a pet iguana. She names her iguana Kugel.” — The Detroit Jewish News
“This playful Hanukkah tale warrants praise for two things in particular: a mystery pet adopted from the animal shelter and a modern Grandma who defies ageist stereotypes with her chic haircut and sparkly scarf.” — Washington Post
“Bright, cheerful illustrations pair with the sweet story.” — Washington Post on Parenting Blog
10 great holiday-season books to enjoy with your little ones
The season of all seasons is upon us. And these children’s books about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and wintertime are just what we need to slow down, cuddle up and entertain and enlighten our little ones.
“Kugel for Hanukkah?” by Gretchen M. Everin; illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown (Kar-Ben)
A little girl celebrates the eight nights of Hanukkah with her family, and each night brings a surprise — although not the one she’s hoping for. The tone is set early on: “I lit the shamash and the first candle. Grandma said the blessing. Then we feasted on crispy potato latkes with sweet applesauce.” Her grandmother gets a gift of candied cranberries; the little girl, wanting a pet, instead gets a lamp. Each night the family lights another candle, eats more latkes (made with various ingredients and toppings), and the grandmother and girl each open a gift. At the end, the grandmother combines all her gifts to make the girl’s favorite treat — kugel (noodle casserole, traditionally eaten during Passover). Later, we see that each of the child’s gifts relates to the surprise she receives on the last night: a new pet. Bright, cheerful illustrations pair with the sweet story.
“My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa,” by Lisa Bullard; illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo (Lerner)
This festive, engaging book, organized into informational chapters, begins: “Hi! I’m Kevin. We’re getting ready for Kwanzaa.” From there, he explains how his family prepares for the holiday, followed by definitions of key terms, a history of the holiday and how the family celebrates. He says: “Somebody new lights the candles each night. I watch closely so I’m ready for my turn.” Back pages provide further details, including components of the celebration and explanations, such as “Families celebrate Kwanzaa in many ways. Some families drink juice from a special unity cup.” A question-and-answer page and glossary offer expanded learning.
“Barnyard Bubbe’s Hanukkah,” by Joni Klein-Higger and Barbara Sharf; illustrated by Monica Gutierrez (Kar-Ben)
This short board book combines Hanukkah, counting and guessing. For seven nights, a different animal knocks on Barnyard Bubbe’s door, letting her know it left her an item. We see only the animals’ foot as it knocks, and we see the word for the sound it makes. "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK/On the first night of Hanukkah, what did Barnyard Bubbe see?/One sack of meal./ ‘Oh, my. Who has left this for me?’ " The next night, she receives two cups of oil, and so forth, until the eighth night, when she combines all the ingredients to make latkes. On the last two pages, she and each of the animals hold a plate with the latkes. It’s a fun read-aloud, and little ones will enjoy guessing which animal makes each of the sounds.
“Grover’s Hanukkah Party,” by Joni Kibort Sussman; illustrated by Tom Leigh (Kar-Ben)
A smiling, familiar face from Sesame Street leads readers in counting the many parts of Hanukkah — all of which add up to eight. “Hanukkah is the holiday of 8,” reads a page, with the numbers one through eight brightly depicted underneath. Eight also refers to the number of items on Grover’s grocery list, the time for the party to start, the number of friends and so on. Various Sesame Street characters make appearances in this short yet upbeat holiday book.
“Pastel-toned illustrations create a sense of happy family celebration.”—The Horn Book Magazine
“With cheery, identically composed cartoon spreads leading up to the reveal . . . Everin and Ashdown build the suspense for their holiday mystery.”—Publishers Weekly
“[A] sweet addition for public and Jewish libraries looking for a fun read to bulk up Hanukkah collections.”—School Library Journal
flavor of latkes. Grandma receives some interesting gifts (dried cranberries, chocolate chips, cinnamon
sticks, and vanilla), but the unnamed protagonist’s gifts are very strange indeed (a metal lamp, a
thermometer, a spray bottle, and a ceramic bowl). By the last night, it’s clear that Grandma has received
ingredients to make a cranberry–chocolate chip kugel (recipe appended); but the young girl is confused
and disappointed. However, while she helps Grandma cook, the rest of the family busily assembles her real
gift: an iguana and habitat. Kudos to Everin for finding a unique take on Hanukkah, no small feat given the
proliferation of titles about this celebration. Ashdown’s cheerful, cartoon-style art features googly-eyed
characters usually depicted sitting on the couch. Careful observers will note that the girl’s thought bubbles
reveal what she would really like (a kitten, puppy, turtle, etc.), while Grandpa’s socks reflect these wishes.
Not essential, but certainly fun.”―Booklist
“Everin’s tale is entertaining and happy and will make a pleasant addition to holiday book shelves. Ashdown’s colorful illustrations feature a googly-eyed family and a menorah depicting each night of the holiday. The historical setting of Hanukkah is assumed. Presents for Hanukkah can be both surprising and perfect.”―Kirkus