Hanukkah, Shmanukkah!

Esme Raji Codell; LeUyen Pham, illus.
  • Review
By – August 3, 2012
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​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.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).

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