cover image A CONFUSED HANUKKAH: An Original Story of Chelm

A CONFUSED HANUKKAH: An Original Story of Chelm

Jon Koons, , illus. by S.D. Schindler. . Dutton, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46969-8

In newcomer Koon's tale (based on a show created by his theatrical company), the rabbi is away, and the people of Chelm, the mythical town of Jewish fools, are clueless about how to celebrate Hanukkah. Yossel is dispatched to a nearby shtetl to get advice, but a wrong turn takes him to the gentile Big City instead. Dutifully taking note of the preparations for Christmas, he returns home and instructs his village to erect a towering, Menorah-, matzo ball– and dreidel-decorated evergreen, while hefty Schmuel the butcher dresses up as "Hanukkah Hershel." Luckily, the rabbi returns in time to gently instruct the people that it's important to "celebrate with our own traditions," and an exuberant—and thoroughly Jewish—holiday ensues. With Schindler's (Grandy Thaxter's Helper , reviewed Sept. 20) buoyant watercolor-and-ink illustrations making the most of the silliness and slapstick, this book is a love letter to every family that resists December's siren song of assimilation. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)