Three rabbis from Hanukkah past, present, and future haunt old man Scroogemacher’s dreams in this parody of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. They frighten the miserly sweatshop owner — who is so cruel that he even keeps his workers late on the last night of Hanukkah, dismissing their complaints with a scornful “Hanukkah, Shmanukkah!” — with all sorts of reminders. They point out that Hanukkah stands for freedom, that he was once a penniless immigrant, that his workers have rights, and that generations of American Jews still remember and observe the ancient holiday. Packed into the story are capsule summaries of the journey to America, Jewish American labor history, and a vision of a multicultural world where children learn in peace and harmony and women can become rabbis. The style is super-heavy in Yiddishisms and Yinglish syntax, most of it humorous, some of it stale, like the title. Large, color illustrations portray character, setting, and action nicely, although an inexplicable change in Schroogemacher’s looks occurs after the first few pages. An author’s note, an illustrator’s note, a glossary, and a list of books for further reading wrap up an instructive message told, with verve, as a story. For ages 8 – 12.
Linda R. Silver is a specialist in Jewish children’s literature. She is editor of the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, and author of Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jewish Publication Society, 2010) and The Jewish Values Finder: A Guide to Values in Jewish Children’s Literature (Neal-Schuman, 2008).