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Hanukkah, Shmanukkah! Hardcover – August 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 58 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786851791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786851799
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. In this picture book for older children, Codell retells Dickens' A Christmas Carol, replacing Yule customs with those of the Festival of Lights. Old Scroogemacher, the owner of an early-twentieth-century New York City garment shop, mistreats his immigrant workers and reduces their wages at the slightest offence. The Rabbi of Hanukkah Past helps Scroogemacher to recall the origins of the holiday, the Rabbi of Hanukkah Present takes him on a tour of the crowded tenements where his employees live, and the Rabbi of Hanukkah Future informs her charge about current labor practices, offering Scroogemacher two possible scenarios for his nephew Moshe's future. Codell sprinkles her telling with a generous helping of Yiddish phrases, clarified in a glossary, and humorous asides designed for modern audiences: when Scroogemacher comments about the ubiquitousness of Christmas, the rabbi replies, "What can I say? They have good decorations." Pham's luminous artwork exhibits an Old World style suitable to the setting. Appended with source notes from the author and illustrator, this will find a niche as a family read-aloud. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Esmé Raji Codell is the author of the acclaimed novel Sahara Special, winner of the IRA Children's Book Award, a Kirkus Editors' Choice for 2003, and a BookSense 76 #1 title; as well as a memoir for young readers, Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade. A former teacher, bookseller, and children's librarian, she lives with her husband and son in Chicago. Sahara Special and Sing a Song of Tuna Fish Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade are also available on audio from Listening Library.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bundtlust TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I admit it: this review is in response to the reviewer who called "Hanukkah, Shmanukkah" "offensive and weird." Having grown up on "A Christmas Carol," I was curious to see how Jewish tradition would be worked into the story, and why the first reviewer found it so offensive.

Scroogemacher is the miserly owner of a garment sweatshop in turn-of-the-century New York City. He forces his immigrant workers to work overtime on the last night of Hanukkah, and is visited by the Rabbis of Hanukkah Past, Present, and Future. Scroogemacher is transported to the time of Judah Maccabee, in the middle of the battle to reclaim the Temple, to the crowded tenements where his workers live, and finally, to see his nephew's possible futures based on his choices.

So how did Jewish tradition hold up? The Rabbi of Hanukkah present is a female rabbi, and the text addresses Reform Judaism implicitly. Scroogemacher is outraged when, in the future, he is surrounded by Christmas decorations and music instead of his more familiar Jewish world, to which the rabbi replies, "What can I say? They have good decorations." Liberal sprinklings of Yiddish (a glossary is included) and humorous writing make this an original take on Dickens' work rather than a poor imitation. The artwork evokes a sort of Old World style that works well with the text.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Ericson on May 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This re-telling of Dickens's Christmas Carol is charming, warm and friendly. It presented a story I knew in a new perspective, and I learned things about Jewish culture that I didn't know before. The illustrations are wonderful.

Jewish friends to whom I showed this book are planning to read this story to their children at Hanukkah.

A previous review stated that Dickens' Christmas Carol wasn't ethnic. Yes it was -- it was incredibly WASP ethnic. This re-telling doesn't reinforce stereotypes, but shows how much we all have in common.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By library lady on December 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely problematic for children. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is wonderful...why make a Jewish tale out of it, and then lace it with such "Jewish-y" stereotypes? Almost every Yiddish word -- and of course they'll all have to be defined for young readers - is an insult or an epithet. What does this bring to Hanukkah or to Children's literature? Nothing -- Bupkis.
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Format: Hardcover
I love reading this book to my boys. The Rabbi of Hanukah past brings my kids the basics of Hanukah quite vividly. The present for Scroogemacher and his workers is the history of my great grandparents, my kids' great-great-grandparents. The Rabbi of Hanukah present brings Scroogemacher to my present, the present in which my children live, and the questions they ask as very Reform Jews in a predominantly Christian society. The book also helps my children to understand how special their life is and how many advantages they have in their lives as contrasted with the challenges faced both by their recent and ancient ancestors. I understand the reviewers who found the Yiddish distracting. But I didn't. The author beautifully captured the sound and pattern of speech I heard from my grandparents and to a lesser degree from my parents. As pointed out by a less positive review, most of the Yiddish was critical or expressions of dismay. That's not artificial or demeaning: that's when my family and others I've heard resorted to Yiddish most frequently. I love to be able to pass that rhythm of speech on to my children so they can become familiar with and comfortable with it, and maybe pass some of it on so it's not completely lost. It's like having a tape recording of their grandmother. The politics/social lessons in the story are also valuable for my children and they reflect a strong branch of American Jewish culture. Read the book out loud. Pass it on. It's a mitzvah.
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