Yitzi and the Giant Menorah

Richard Ungar

  • Review
By – January 12, 2018

This Hanukkah sto­ry is set in Chelm, a shtetl town whose res­i­dents have their own unique — some would say, fool­ish — kind of log­ic. When the may­or of Lublin gives the peo­ple of Chelm an enor­mous meno­rah, the vil­lagers scram­ble to fig­ure out an appro­pri­ate way to thank him. Pota­to latkes? Shmu­lik gob­bles the pan­cakes down on the way to deliv­er them. The whitest, spark­li­est snow? It melts en route.

Young Yitzi final­ly comes up with the solu­tion: The vil­lagers take their new meno­rah to the top of the hill and light it, its can­dles burn­ing bright­ly enough for the may­or to see all the way from Lublin. It’s a fun sto­ry — it’s hard to lose with Chelm! — but lacks the clev­er­ness of some of the best ones. The end­ing doesn’t have that final fool­ish twist of log­ic that read­ers famil­iar with Chelm may expect. The illus­tra­tions are love­ly with vibrant and rich col­ors, but again, lack that extra edge of humor.

Leslie Kim­mel­man grew up out­side Philadel­phia and grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont. She is the author of many children’s books, awards for which include Best Children’s Books of the Year from the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion; Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies; and Syd­ney Tay­lor Notable Books. Kim­mel­man is an edi­tor at Sesame Work­shop and lives with her fam­i­ly just north of New York City.

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