cover image Mendel’s Hanukkah Mess Up

Mendel’s Hanukkah Mess Up

Chana and Larry Stiefel, illus. by Daphna Awadish. Kalaniot, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-73508-757-3

Set in a modern-day, religiously observant Jewish community—geographic details in Awadish’s freewheeling, marker-textured drawings point to New York City—the Steifels’ slice-of-life Hanukkah story tells of classic schlemiel Mendel, portrayed with light skin and red hair, who continually provokes cries of “Oy, Mendel!” His mishaps include putting sparklers instead of candles on the menorah and setting a tray of sufganiyot on the rabbi’s chair. Asked to drive the rabbi’s menorah-topped Mitzvah Mobile around town and invite everyone to the big Hanukkah bash, Mendel messes up yet again, and big time—wrecking the van and causing a major traffic pileup. But when a TV reporter sticks a mic in Mendel’s face and asks, “What’s the story here?” he relates the history of Hanukkah and makes his community proud. The ending is like applesauce on latke: “That’s what this holiday is all about,” beams Mendel’s rabbi, “sharing the miracles!” Back matter includes a holiday history, Yiddish glossary, and recipe. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)