October 15, 2015 Booklist 49 www.booklistonline.com
but one stands out—it’s bedecked from chimney to fence post in
Christmas decorations. An inside view reveals an interior festooned
in tinsel, blinking lights, and garlands, not to mention a bevy of
Santa-themed tchotchkes. Ercolini’s angular, cartoonish illustrations,
in bright colors, depict the wild enthusiasm of the home owners and
the wacky attire of Santa and his helpers (dig that reindeer in pink
leg warmers and bangles). A larger-than-usual spread of sweets—not
your typical milk-and-cookies scenario—pleases old Saint Nick so
much that he gets extra cozy in the family’s living room, but when
the appointed moment arrives in Moore’s verses, he departs with a
wink and a “Good night!” Little ones will have fun looking through
the over-the-top illustrations for hilarious details, and they’ll likely
appreciate the humorous contrast between the wacky visuals and the
familiar lines. A wild take on a holiday favorite. —Anita Lock
Nonna’s Hanukkah Surprise.
By Karen Fisman. Illus. by Martha Aviles.
2015. 32p. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (9781467734769). K–Gr. 2.
This reassuring story where grandma saves the day effortlessly
incorporates background information and context about both Hanukkah and Christmas. Rachel is excited to go spend the holidays
with her Italian cousins and beloved Nonna, but is also upset about
missing Hanukkah. Her parents assure her that they can still celebrate the holiday and pack up dreidels, chocolate gelt, and candles.
They even surprise Rachel with a cool new menorah featuring girl
Maccabee warriors. However, after a warm welcome at Nonna’s
house, Rachel realizes that the menorah was left on the plane. All
seems lost until Nonna improvises a beautiful new menorah out of
her treasured perfume bottles, and the first night candle is lit right
on time. References to King Antiochus, panettone, lasagna, and
latkes are seamlessly woven into the story, and young readers will
readily absorb new information along with affirmations of tolerance
and acceptance. Illustrations in muted warm colors create a cozy feel
and help make this a lovely addition to the holiday canon. Shelve
with Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama (2012), by Selina Alko.
Over the River and through the Wood.
By Linda Ashman. Illus. by Kim Smith.
Oct. 2015. 32p. Sterling, $14.95 (9781454910244). PreS–Gr. 1.
Ashman and Smith collaborate in the creation of a unique family-gathering holiday adventure. Four families—nuclear, biracial,
adoptive, and gay—head to the grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving. Coming from different parts of the U.S., the families make their
ways to grandma’s house via car, train, plane, and boat. But problems
occur en route—the car runs out of gas, the rental lot at the train
station is empty, a tire goes flat on the airport shuttle, and so on.
Luckily, in every transportation crisis, a one-horse open sleigh always
manages to come to the rescue. Based on the familiar nineteenth-century Thanksgiving Day song, Ashman’s galloping lyrics neatly
complement Smith’s lively traveling scenes, which are packed full of
fun family antics. The warm full-color palette and cheery cartoonish
faces add to the genial atmosphere, and humorous details peppering the backgrounds will be fun for little kids to hunt for. With
singsongy lines and a repeated refrain, this celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday and families of all stripes will be a great fit for group
storytime. —Anita Lock
The Parakeet Named Dreidel.
By Isaac Bashevis Singer. Illus. by Suzanne Raphael Berkson.
2015. 32p. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374300944). K–Gr. 3.
David and his family are celebrating the final night of Hanukkah
when a parakeet appears outside their Brooklyn window. Dad lets
the bird inside, where it makes itself at home eating millet from a
saucer, playing dreidel, and speaking Yiddish. When a “found” poster
yields no replies, the family decides to adopt the bird, naming it
Dreidel. Nine years later, David recounts the parakeet’s story at a col-
lege Hanukkah party and is shocked to discover that fellow student
Zelda lost her parakeet on the same night. A tearful reunion fol-
lows, and the dilemma of who should claim the bird is resolved when
David and Zelda marry. Originally published in Singer’s Hanukkah
collection The Power of Light (1980), this story makes a successful
transition to the picture-book format. Berkson’s black line and water-
color illustrations enhance the text, adding plausible scenes that don’t
appear in the original. A final Chagall-like illustration depicts David,
Zelda, Dreidel, and a baby flying through the air with a menorah.
Perfect for family holiday sharing. —Kay Weisman
By Heidi Smith Hyde. Illus. by Jing Jing Tsong.
2015. 32p. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (9781467734745). Gr. 1–3.
Marcus and his family flee Nazi Germany and move to a Shanghai neighborhood packed with other Jewish families. Though life in
China is vastly different, he is determined to make it a home, and it
seems more possible when he befriends Liang, a Chinese boy from
the neighborhood. As Sukkot approaches, Marcus is eager to build
a sukkah, even though wood is scarce and he has no yard. With the
help of Liang and his friends from yeshiva, Marcus builds a bamboo
sukkah on his roof. Sadly, he cannot decorate it like he would in
Germany, but Liang lifts his spirits by taking him to his traditional harvest celebration, the Moon Festival. Tsong’s blocky, textured
illustrations reveal Chinese and Jewish families peacefully coexisting, perhaps best illustrated by the bamboo sukkah decorated with,
instead of fruit and vegetables, warmly glowing red paper lanterns.
While it would have benefited from more details about both holidays, this heartwarming story of cultural exchange, closing with a
note about the Jewish refugee population in Shanghai, is well suited
to classroom use. —Sarah Hunter
Trick ARRR Treat: A Pirate Halloween.
By Leslie Kimmelman. Illus. by Jorge Monlongo.
2015. 32p. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807580615). PreS–Gr. 1.
Trick-or-treating pirates have three rules to follow on Halloween
night: be home before dark, don’t be sweet, and don’t forget to say
“trick arrr treat!” With that, a group of six young pirates embark on
a quest for as much candy loot as they can possibly plunder from
neighbors. Their journey isn’t without danger (and imagination),
however, as a dark monster interrupts the fun. But the pirates and
their “sea monster” make it home before nightfall to a rollicking
holiday party. The illustrations are a delightful combination of bright
colors and expressive characters who look like they have sprung from
a Disney Junior show. The pirate gang is a diverse crew, led by an African American female captain. Kimmelman clearly had fun writing
pirate lingo in verse, and the pirates’ names are clever. Who wouldn’t
chuckle at Glass-Eyed Gabby, so named for her spectacles? Some of
the rhymes aren’t as effective as others, but short sentences and a
narrator’s commitment to a decent pirate accent will make this a
Halloween storytime favorite. —Erin Linsenmeyer
The Twelve Days of Christmas.
By Rachel Griffin. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2015. 32p. Barefoot, $14.99 (9781782852216). PreS–Gr. 2.
The traditional song gets a refreshingly eclectic interpretation in
this combination holiday and counting book. Each two-page spread
follows the same format. The number of the day and corresponding
song lyrics appear on the left, while the right side features a full-page
illustration of that day’s gift. Using embroidered collage and handmade papers with rich, deeply saturated colors, Griffin creates images
that reflect influences from a variety of cultures, such as drummers
from Malawi, pipers from India, and a lady dancing wearing a crown
of candles like Scandinavia’s Saint Lucia. The fabric art is intricate
and detailed, making the book better suited for lap sharing than for
large groups. Detailed notes provide historical context about celebrations connected to the 12 days of Christmas. For math extensions,
younger children can count the items in the pictures, while older
ones can add up all the gifts, a total number that relates to the end
of an old year and the start of a new one. A beautiful addition to the
holiday collection. —Lucinda Whitehurst