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The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Hardcover – October 28, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Go ahead and cover this book in red, stamp it with gold foil and label it a Christmas story—Lemony Snicket fans won't be fooled. The miraculous birth here is of a potato pancake, which, unlike its less loquacious literary cousin the Gingerbread Man, begins screaming the moment it gets cooked. Leaping out of the frying pan and into the great white spaces of Brown's retro-cool graphics, the latke screams even louder as it tries in vain to explain itself and its role at Hanukkah to flashing colored lights (So you're basically hash browns, they reply. Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham) and an equally Christmas-centric candy cane and tree. Embedding a satirical sting in his elegantly cadenced prose, the author (Daniel Handler) up-ends any number of conventions in what may be his funniest book yet. The gift-edition trim size makes this as easy a choice for adults as for the Unfortunate Events crowd. All ages. (Nov.)
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About the Author

Lemony Snicket is the author of Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography and A Series Of Unfortunate Events. His whereabouts are unknown. Lisa Brown is the author and illustrator of Baby Make Me Breakfast, Baby Mix Me a Drink, Baby Fix My Car, and Baby Do My Banking. She lives in San Francisco with her family.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (October 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416870
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416879
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Finally, a book that reinforces that Hanukah is not the Jewish Christmas and is not about presents. It is about hope in the face of being outnumbered. Here is a story about a latke in the midst of a Christmas story. It is screaming and wailing. And why shouldn't it? Someone who lives in the house without the xmas lights adorning it has tried to fry the latke in sizzling hot oil. Rather than jumping out of the frynig pan and into the fire, this little latke heads for the open window. As the story progresses, we learn about the story of Hanukah and the misconceptions about the latke and the holiday. A variety of popular Christmas symbols cross paths with the latke and think it is nothing more than a hash brown, a nice side meal to a Christmas ham, and more (or less). Oh, what a deep and meaningful book this is. It gets more insightful with each reading. Why do the colored lights fail to understand the latke? Why does the candy cane only focus on its minty fragrence and have no inclination for understanding that not everyone desires a peppermint scent? How could a candy stick be so distasteful under its red and white striped mint coating? Each confrontation ends with the latke running and screaming in search of understanding and identity. Until it lands under a pine tree in a snow covered, deep, dark forest (or is this the subconcious). Yet again, the pine tree is only focused on its small, provincial worldview. If something plopped under it, then it must be a present. No? But wait. A family with an axe approaches the pine forest...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The small, square, hardback is a great book for families of all religions to learn a little about Hanukah and the importance of understanding different cultures, but it's just as skewed and wicked as the other Lemony Snicket titles. Holiday lights, a candy cane and a pine tree just can't understand that not everything is about Christmas, especially a little potato pancake. The flashing lights say that the latke is basically hash browns, which go great alongside a nice Christmas ham.

Finally the latke finds some kindred spirits: a Jewish family who understands him so well, it eats him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[To the tune of "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" as recorded by Herman's Hermits and The Carpenters.]

There's a kind of hash, in Lemony's world, that's right
In Lemony's world, you can hear the sound of a latke with lungs
If you know what I mean
Just potato mush, with onions and egg, and fried
There's no better way, than the Hanukah way, with the latke that cried

So read it very carefully
Closely now and you will see what I mean
The latke that screamed
Between the silly bits you'll see
That there's a lot of history
On the Jews, and Hanukah's meaning

Yes there's a kind of hash, in Lemony's world, all right
In Lemony's world, you can learn a lot, from Hanukah lore

Seriously now, this deceptively simple little book effectively illustrates the difference between Hanukah and Christmas for those of us who weren't too sure before (and were afraid to ask).

Through funny exchanges with other objects and some delightful illustrations by Lisa Brown, "Snicket" brings out the significance of Hanukah by comparing the traditions of Christmas with the miraculous defeat of Antiochus IV at the hands of the Maccabees, the subsequent re-dedication of the temple, and the oil that burned for eight days.

The book ends in true dramatic Snicket fashion, with a kind of hush.

Educational, yet entertaining, this is a good, albeit brief, book for everyone.

Amanda Richards, December 10, 2007
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Format: Hardcover
I hate to tell you this, but if you read this review, you just may end up buying this book (or even more copies for the loved ones in your family). In his stark, realistic, enigmatic and loving style, Lemony Snicket relates much more about the story of Hanukkah than most of us could imagine. Our majority Christian society blissfully harbors much ignorance about Judaism, and especially the perpetuated myth that Hanukkah is somehow a `Jewish Christmas.' But as the tragic hero of the story (heroes always perish, don't they?) this latke demonstrates, as do many of us discover, that a simple and straightforward telling of the Hanukkah story can explode this myth. The `Christmas Story' of the subtitle does not refer to the narrative of the birth of Jesus. Rather the reference is made to the experience of every identifying Jew who, at this end-of-year holiday season, screams in frustration at the unwillingness of society to accept religious differences. I would say that this book will appeal to the older juvenile that the Amazon Tags system refers to, but then, again, anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of reading Snicket's series of unfortunate events will truly enjoy this unlikely tale of a screaming and ill-fated latke. At least the latke was consumed by those who, in the final analysis, understood him. (I must say, I wanted seconds, but that will have to wait until his next book. How about a cookbook with a instructions for making a great latke, or a recipe for puttanesca?)
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