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.