Holiday books harvest laughter and warmth for young readersÔTwas the season of giving,And all through the stores,Await bright racks and shelves,Filled with holiday books galore!Happy HanukkahThere's a feast of Hanukkah books this year, starting with A Hanukkah Treasury (Henry Holt, $19.95, ages 6-up, 0805052933), a collection of legends, history, recipes, crafts, and modern reminiscences. Don't miss Jane Yolen's touching poem, Ever After, about how she felt while her father was away fighting during World War II, and the intriguing short essay, A Menorah in the White House. Treat yourself to a short history lesson with The Menorah Story (ages 5-up), featuring the impressionistic images of Mark Podwal, a New York Times illustrator whose works are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah (Simon ∧ Schuster, $16, ages 3-8, 0689814887) features a story and activity for each night of the festival. Pearl is a little lamb who has also been featured in Jane Breskin Zalben's Pearl Plants a Tree and Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa. Stories are interspersed with recipes, songs, and explanations of the holidays. Zalben's illustrations will add to the coziness and comfort of any family celebration.
Both the illustrations and the story in When Mindy Saved Hanukkah (Scholastic, $15.95, ages 4-8, 0590371363) are charming and exciting. Eric A. Kimmel has combined his memories of Manhattan's Eldridge Street Synagogue with a saga of a little family (in the tradition of the Borrowers) named Klein. After Papa returns from an unsuccessful trip to find a candle with which to celebrate Hanukkah, young Mindy decides to set out on her own. Armed with garlic, a lucky stone, and a climbing hook (a paper clip with string), Mindy braves a pouncing cat and sheer terror. Barbara McClintock's illustrations are superb.
Here's hoping many super books find their way to your house this holiday season. Enjoy!Alice Cary is a reviewer in Groton, Massachusetts.