Hap­py Llamakkah!

Lau­ra Gehl, Lydia Nichols (illus.)

  • Review
By – December 7, 2020

The clev­er­ness and cre­ativ­i­ty of the title of this new pic­ture book may be rea­son enough to pluck it off the shelf and set­tle down for a ses­sion of read­ing aloud. Lau­ra Gehl cap­i­tal­izes on the recent lla­ma craze in chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, adding a Jew­ish spin and a sense of pure lla­ma-licious fun.

Some of Hanukkah’s most salient fea­tures are crys­tal­lized and pre­sent­ed in short, per­fect­ly scan­ning, and flaw­less­ly rhyming triplets; light/​night/​write, spin/​win/​grin, sweet/​eat/​treat, and sev­er­al oth­er com­bi­na­tions evoke a light-heart­ed cel­e­bra­to­ry tone. There are no Mac­cabean armies here, no rul­ing tyrants, no assim­i­la­tion fears, no rebel­lious lead­ers, not even a mir­a­cle of eight days dura­tion to mar­vel at. This is not meant to be a Hanukkah book that stands alone and edu­cates chil­dren about the deep­er mean­ing of the hol­i­day. More than com­pen­sat­ing for these absences, though, is an exten­sive Author’s Note” which address­es all of these issues as well as explain­ing Hanukkah’s cus­toms so par­ents can dis­cuss them knowl­edge­ably with young chil­dren and this well-writ­ten, com­pre­hen­sive note can cer­tain­ly be part of the read-aloud ses­sion. The text and the art sup­ple­ment heav­ier offer­ings with a delight­ful sense of fun, show­ing smil­ing ani­mals drawn with sim­ple lines and vivid col­ors, enjoy­ing the hol­i­day and entic­ing read­ers to join them in scenes of Hanukkah joy. The snowy out­doors with a cozy house, com­plete with glow­ing meno­rah in the win­dow, win­some­ly beck­ons chil­dren and invites them in to share a hearty help­ing of col­or­ful Hanukkah delight.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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