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.
The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown
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.
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