The Coun­t’s Hanukkah Countdown

  • Review
By – April 20, 2012
Sesame Street’s famous reg­u­lars and Hanukkah meet in a cute sto­ry that deliv­ers the hol­i­day com­bined with num­bers up to eight. Grover hosts a latke par­ty for Israeli mup­pet friends; the Count loves the idea; he includes him­self because eight is the per­fect Hanukkah num­ber. The wordy sto­ry presents the hol­i­day cus­toms of can­dle light­ing, drei­del spin­ning, latke eat­ing and gift giv­ing. It explains the his­tor­i­cal back­ground of Anti­ochus, the Mac­cabees and the mir­a­cle of the oil. It nev­er for­gets to count from one to eight, with rep­e­ti­tion clev­er­ly done to teach and to tick­le the fun­ny bone. The tale’s ancient his­to­ry declares it was the Jews who fought for reli­gious free­dom; it is murky about the mod­ern hol­i­day being a Jew­ish rather than an Israeli one or one cel­e­brat­ed around the world with or with­out Israelis. Jew­ish chil­dren will con­nect at once. Chil­dren of oth­er per­sua­sions will learn Jew­ish cus­toms as they rein­force diver­si­ty and tol­er­ance. Every­one of every call­ing prac­tices count­ing. The active illus­tra­tions accu­rate­ly repli­cate the well known, beloved TV Mup­pets that young read­ers enjoy and relate to. This is the start of a fine col­lab­o­ra­tion between Kar-Ben and Sesame Street Work­shop in Shalom Sesame with three more books promised. This first one, avail­able in hard­back, paper­back, and e‑book, is rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 – 6.

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

Discussion Questions