The holiday season is upon us! In the library, that means I get to bring out my absolutely favourite Hannukah book, Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins, by Eric Kimmel.
The basic premise in the story is that the village synagogue is haunted by- you guessed it- Hanukkah goblins, which our man Herschel must dispel using his wits and intelligence.
Hershel and the Hannukah goblins is the entertaining, engaging, and informative folktale-like story of how Hershel of Ostropol, arriving at a small village on the Eve of Hanukkah, uses his wiles, courage and perseverance to rid the village of the nasty goblins that have been stopping Hanukkah celebrations. Eric Kimmel's story and Tricia Schart Hyman's illustrations are absolutely wonderful, and have just the right amount of scary elements to excite kids without frightening them off.
I read this book many times as a child, and I remember admiring Herschel for all of his clever tricks, and the way he managed to defeat all of the goblins using only his clever tricks.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is a Caldecott Honor Book featuring rich and vibrant colours, and what kids seem to love most is the illustrations - and how each goblin is scarier and more powerful than the last. With each passing night, the illustrations grow darker, the goblins grow scarier, and Hershel must use all of his wits to outsmart them.
I really love how this story features a clever protagonist who must use his head to defeat darkness, making this a compelling story for children of all ages. I have read this story to 1st graders, and I have read it to 6th graders, and each group is equally engaged.
This book has vocabulary words in Hebrew that are related to Hanukkah such as “gimel”, “shin”, and “shammes”. The book also goes through some basic traditional elements of Hanukkah including lighting the eight candles and using a menorah. The book does a nice job integrating traditional religious themes with the silliness of goblins and hauntings. The informational last page of the book talks about the history of the holiday, traditional ways to celebrate, and food and games associated with Hanukkah.
Happy holidays from me, and all of your friends and the Montreal West Children’s Library!