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Hanukkah, a Giant Menorah, and a Surprise in This Charming Picture Book for the Holiday Season

Updated on November 29, 2018
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Charming Story for the Season of Hanukkah

Wonderful choice to read during the season of Hanukkah.
Wonderful choice to read during the season of Hanukkah. | Source

Hanukkah Celebration and a Special Thank You for the Mayor

Richard Ungar's Yitzi and the Giant Menorah is a charming and beautifully illustrated new picture book for the coming celebration of Hanukkah. Jewish families will soon celebrate this special holiday and reading stories to children about the holiday with its special symbol of the menorah is a great way to begin the season. Families who have Jewish friends will also enjoy this charming story and the beautiful illustrations. Stories about the celebrations of other cultures are a great way to promote good will throughout the holiday season.

The night before Hanukkah begins in the village of Chelm is a special time for the villagers. They have received a very special gift in the form of a giant menorah. Candles on the menorah are the highlight of a Hanukkah celebration. Lighting the menorah candles is the centerpiece of Hanukkah for Jewish families. The villagers want to thank the mayor in a special way with a special gift, but the ideas just are not coming. What can they possibly give the mayor to acknowledge this wonderful gift of the giant menorah? How about the gift of some delicious latkes? The person who was supposed to deliver the latkes ate them all! How about some beautiful white snow? The snow melted before it got to the mayor! A dreidel might be perfect! The gift of the dreidel did not work out either. Hanukkah will soon be over and there is still no gift to thank the mayor for the giant menorah. Yitzi saves the day with a surprise at the end of the story. Yitzi's surprise was the perfect gift to thank the mayor for the giant menorah. Young readers will be delighted with the ending.

The illustrations in this picture book create interest in the story. Each illustration fills the page with details that are highly engaging. Unger also includes The Story of Chanukah at the conclusion of the book with fascinating facts. The story tells the significance of the eight candles that are placed on the menorah in Jewish homes.

Yitzi and the Giant Menorah was published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin/Random House and is recommended for ages 7-12. It has an ISBN of 978-1-77049-812-9.

Colorful Illustrations Help Tell the Story


Classroom Delight for Reading for the Holiday Season

I always enjoyed the holidays with my classes when I taught early elementary and early childhood groups. There is a wealth of lessons to use during the holidays that include multicultural traditions for the children to enjoy. Richard Ungar's Yitzi and the Giant Menorah is a great choice for the classroom, even if there are no Jewish children in your classroom. Young children always enjoy learning about how others celebrate the holidays. I used several stories about Hanukkah during the season to teach multicultural celebrations.

*Read Yitzi and the Giant Menorah in a group reading story time session. Call attention to the menorah. You might bring in a real menorah as a part of the reading session. How many candle holders are on the menorah?

*Call attention to the illustration that tells about making the potato latkes that are always part of a Hanukkah celebration. I used many cooking activities in my classroom during the holidays and making latkes was always a favorite. I have included a classroom-friendly recipe at the end of the article.

*Call attention to the illustration of the dreidel. The dreidel is always a favorite part of the Hanukkah celebration for children. You might bring in a dreidel and some pennies to teach children how to play the game.

Classroom Friendly Recipe for Potato Latkes

Latkes are Yiddish for pancakes and are popular during the celebration of Hanukkah. These are easily prepared in a classroom with an electric skillet.

*5 large peeled potatoes

1 large onion

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

3/4 cup oil for frying

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Grate potatoes and onion, very finely grated. Add eggs, flour, and seasoning. Mix well.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in an electric skillet. Lower the heat and place one large tablespoon of batter at a time. Fry on each side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain.

Serve with applesauce.

Enjoy and Happy Hanukkah!

© 2018 Cindy Hewitt


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