cover image Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Richard Simon and Tanya Simon, illus. by Mark Siegel. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-949-8

In the wake of Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents send him off alone to New York City to live with his Aunt Esther, who he has never met. The “terribly small” boy arrives on a December day in 1938 that’s both the seventh night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, and makes his way 100 blocks up Broadway to reach his aunt’s house. The final words of Oskar’s father—“Even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for blessings”—are affirmed as the boy crosses paths with eight New Yorkers from all walks of life (including cameos from Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt). The Simons’ moving, reserved text is beautifully paired with Siegel’s vivid, canvas-textured drawings, which borrow the dramatic framings and emotional energy of contemporary graphic novels. This is a book that’s wonderfully original in every way—right up to the afterword providing historical context and a map of Oskar’s walk. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)