In our predominantly Gentile elementary school, it helps to explain dreidels, latkes, and the lighting of the menorah candles for eight nights before commencing. But then the fun begins. This Hershel falls into the tradition of great trickster tales where he uses his quick wit and careful planning to outsmart the goblins (as well as THE KING OF THE GOBLINS) so that he can light the Hanukkah candles each night.
This book is a complete delight, and a humorous way to introduce the festival of Hanukkah to our many Gentile students. Like another reviewer here, I have a great deal of fun using various voices to bring this tale to life.
Tired and hungry, the wandering beggar Hershel of Ostropol arrives in a small village on the first night of Hanukkah and is eager to join the celebrations. But the villagers are terrified of Hanukkah - their synagogue is haunted by goblins who will not let the villagers celebrate the holiday and who make their lives miserable. Hershel, of course, is certain he can help, and volunteers to spend all eight nights of Hanukkah in the haunted synagogue. The task that Hershel must take on is truly daunting. He not only has to light the Hanukkah candles every night despite the goblins' efforts to stop him, but on the last night the King of the Goblins himself must light the candles! ...
There is also a brief postscript that talks about the origins of Hanukkah, and the PROPER way to play dreidel!
Trina Schart Hyman has been one of my favorite illustrators since I was a child.... Her cartoon-like style is instantly recognizable, and her illustrations perfectly capture both Hershel's personality and the whimsy and the terror of the situations he gets into. The goblins, although ugly, are more comic than scary, but the King of the Goblins is truly horrifying (probably because we never actually see him up close). Still, I wouldn't worry about the book giving children any nightmares, especially if their parents talk to them about it.
If you are Jewish, this is an essential addition to your child's library -or even your own! Frankly, the messages of conquering evil through brains, humor, courage and faith (as opposed to brute strength) are valuable for children and adults of any faith or ethnic background. ...[I agree when it is said] that this is just as good a story for Halloween as it is for Hanukkah, as well as a good way to introduce Hanukkah to non-Jewish children. Not to mention, as several teachers and librarians have pointed out here, it must be a delight to read this to a young child, with all the different funny voices one can put on for the goblins. This would have been perfect material for an animated TV special - what a pity one wasn't made.
By the way, Hershel of Ostropol (1747-1811) was actually a real person - he was sort of a 'court jester' to the Hasidic rebbe Borukh of Mezhbizh. While 'Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins' is fiction (I assume!), there are many true stories about Herschel which have been told over and over again, and can be found in Jewish folktale collections. Actually, Kimmel himself wrote a marvelous book called 'The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol', also illustrated by Hyman. It's an excellent further step to take if you want to know more about one of the greatest Jewish tricksters of all time, or even just to read some really delightful stories. Wait till you see how the wily Hershel gets the better of a really stupid robber...
List price: $16.95 (that's 30% off!)
The hapless hero, Kaplan, provides a wonderful vehicle for Rosten to maneuver through the pitfalls and traps of the many idiomed English Language. However, behind the books' mangled metaphors, garbled grammar, and reinvented history, lies the world of the immigrant in New York City. The light-hearted episodes are interspersed with an occasional look into the difficult life of a brand new American. These chapters show the optimism and the will to succeed that Kaplan's fellow students brought with them to America. Kaplan himself is an emblem of endurance; forever doomed to stay in the beginners grade, yet never despairing of the always elusive verb tenses.
This book has only one "weakness": it does not cater to cynicism. It looks ahead, from the eyes of each of the characters, to a better time, a better place, with better pronunciation. This is a glimpse of the Dream of America that I had not seen, a different view that fascinated me. I think the strangest thing is that the book is never preachy. It is likely this is because Rosten wrote this book as a mature writer, with many other works under his belt. His tendency to constant revision has left this book a polished gem. Read, laugh, and enjoy.
List price: $19.95 (that's 30% off!)
1. AN INVALUABLE, DETAILED EXPLANATION OF THE ILLNESS. This information includes an extensive definition of the illness and its symptoms. As is found throughout all of the book, the language is in laymen's terms so that all can learn from the information. 2. PERSONAL TESTIMONIALS. These are placed in various parts of the book to help sufferers and their loved ones better relate to the illness. 3. EXPLANATION OF TREATMENT OPTIONS. There is a very exptensive discussion of various treatment options and how they work. Once again, this is written in a language everyone can understand. 4. EXERCISES TO ASSIST IN TREATMENT. This is probably the most important and unique aspect of the book. As the name of the book suggests, this is a WORKBOOK that offers the reader the opportunity to stop and examine his or her personal situation. By actually writing answers to these exercises, a unique insight into how a person can tackle OCD or how a loved one can be helped is offered. Journalizing is often important in treatment and this book helps a person to do this in an orderly and non-intimidating manner. 5.IDEAS ON HOW TO HANDLE RELAPSES. Unfortunatley, those who are successful with treatment may very well have relapses. It is important to know that this is not a "weakness" or a situation in which a person is not "trying hard enough to get better". It is invaluable for those who have OCD to know that they are not alone even in the face of relapses. I do not remember a book that has handled the topic of relapses in such a positive way; not as a failure, but as a fact of life. The book offers many ways to help a sufferer and his or her family through these times.
In addition to these five areas, the book is very well laid out in an easy-to-read fashion. It is, as I said previously, thorough in its discussion of all facets of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and also related disorders.
We are using THE OCD WORKBOOK:Your Guide to Breaking Free From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a tool in our support group meetings. By exploring the book as a group, together, the members are beginning to be more open, more informed about the illness, better able to have new coping skills and are more "bonded" as a group.
I highly recommend THE OCD WORKBOOK:Your Guide to Breaking Free From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to anyone who has OCD, cares about someone who does, or just wants to learn more about the illness. I thank Dr. Hyman and Ms. Pedrick for bring this workbook to us.
Janis D. McClure, Founder and President The Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation of Jacksonville, Inc.
For anyone dealing with OCD, whether you have it yourself, or are trying to be understanding and supportive of someone you know, this is a must read!
So begins Vivian Vande Velde's fairy tale, A Hidden Magic. As you might expect, Jennifer meets Prince Charming who is immediately bowled over by her grace and beauty. The two marry and live happily ever after, having perfect children who someday grow up to have perfect children of their own. Well, okay, so Prince Charming isn't really bowled over by her beauty. And he isn't really that charming. In fact, I've rarely met a more egotistical (self-centered) stuck up prig in my life. But he is pretty to look at, and to a young somewhat homely girl like Jennifer that seems important.
This story is an obvious parody (misrepresentation) of the standard fairy tale. A Hidden Magic feels somewhat predictable at times. This book is almost exactly the opposite of the standard "handsome prince rescues princess" story, which we are all used to reading and in its attempt to parody it loses much in the way of originality.
The characters are:
Jennifer, a princess who's a bit homely and works at her father's old, run-down castle. Later, when she is faced with adversity (difficulty), she reacts well, keeping her goal in mind and doing her best to achieve it. She has a chubby, good-natured kind of face that parents would tend to call nice and sweet disposition (character) and really is quite a likable girl, but certainly isn't your typical princess.
Prince Alexander is a bold, arrogant (self-centered), proud, exquisite to look at and totally aware of it, and generally a royal pain. Women fall all over him and her knows it. He feels superior to everyone because he is the son of the king who reigns in a very wealthy place. He has curly golden hair, deep blue eyes, and very broad shoulders. In many ways, he is a very stereotypical (trite) royal.
Norman had the ability to change shape with the help of the ring that the old sorcerer gave him. But, underneath his outward appearance, he is always the same rather young and lonely sorcerer. Norman is steadfast (dedicated), loyal, clever, and has a good sense of humor. He is willing to make sacrifices for those he cares for.
The Magical Mirror serves the evil witch, living in one of her many residences in the enchanted forest. He has little patience for stupidity and dishonesty and reacts badly when Prince Alexander tries to steal him. He leaves Jennifer with a riddle to help her save the prince.
Malveenya, the evil witch, is known as the most evil creature in the enchanted forest. The townspeople erected a magical wall to keep her in the enchanted forest and away from civilized folks because of her propensity (tendency) for damage. The owner of the magical mirror, Norman and Jennifer must eventually face Malveenya in their quest to rescue the not-so-charming prince.
The characters are all very colourful. The upstart of Alexander, the quiet and shy Jennifer, and then there's Norman about whom you can't write much about, but he completes the story.
The thing you will love most about the book is the ending, someone gets their just desserts...
The images are detailed but not fussy. They are highly evocative of German Romanticism -- very moody, dreamy, somewhat melancholy, with an emphasis on the grandeur of Nature. If you enjoy the illustrations of Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, Arthur Rackham, et al., you will like this book.
Like Barrett's artwork, Poole's text tells the classic tale soberly, including the queen's botched attempts to strangle Snow White with silken laces and prick her with a poison comb. There is also more mention of Snow White's mother and father than in many retellings. This version is certainly more in line with magical/mystical/matriarchal imagery than Disney's.
Some of the images -- e.g., drops of blood -- and the story itself may be too intense for very young readers. For me, this book is a contemporary gem and is worth seeking out.
If you like this, also check out the same author/illustrator team's collaboration on "Joan of Arc."
The illustrations are beautiful without being frou-frou, serious without being creepy. Highly recommended for ages 4-8.
The reason I enjoyed this version of Snow White more than others that I have read was that is was not as much of a fairy tail like story and more of a darker approach to it. The seven dwarfs, for example, are not shown as happy little creatures that sing and dance all day long. They are merely shown as small, kind men. The illustrations in this book are so beautiful even though they are not the bright colors that would usually go along with this story.
With this book and a little (fun) practice, you can impress your friends, astound your dates, and enhance your own quality of life. So what are you waiting for?
We've travelled 40 miles to the city library several times over the last few years to check this book out. The last time, we had to wait for it to get back from the binders for repairs, and I realized I'd better find my own copy, because it could disappear, and it has become one of my personal "classics" for sharing with children. So I am ordering two; one for ourselves, and one for our little library here in town. (My granddaughter is seven years old now, and delights in reading the Fortune Teller herself, and will no doubt be reading it to her baby sister when she is old enough!) We highly recommend it!
Eight months later, Celia, now 16, was deported with her mother Sala and sister Karin to Lodz. Here they shared an unheated room on Zgierska Street with Julie and Julius Eichengreen and five others. As the vast majority of Jews were shipped like cattle from Lodz, the couple made Celia promise, if ever she went to New York, to find their son, who had left Europe years earlier. On July 13, 1942, Celia's starving and sick mother Sala died.
Before being herself deported to Auschwitz in August 1944, Celia starved and scraped to survive, and lost her sister Karin as well. Her one friend from that period, Elli Sabin, traveled with her in the final transport from Lodz to new horrors. Here she came face to face with the dreaded Dr. Mengele, slaved for some months in an outdoor construction site at the Neuengamme subcamp and in the Blom and Foss Shipyards. In October, she was transferred to Arbeitslager Sasel. Here, to gain access to important files, she promised to transfer her family's house in Altona-Luna Park outside Hamburg to an SS guard. The ploy worked, and she memorized the names and addressed of 42 Nazi guards.
In March 1945, Celia Landau was again transferred, this time to Bergen-Belsen, the disease-ridden camp where Anne Frank and her sister died of Typhus. Fortunately for Laudau, a month later, the camp was liberated, on April 15, 1945. Here she told a British major of her exploit, and was swiftly introduced to Lieutenant-Colonel J.H. Tilling, of Britain's War Crimes Investigations unit. When friends Elli, Hela Dimand and Sabina Zarecki corroborated her story, the British swiftly transferred Celia Landau to Hanover Germany, where she helped bring 17 Nazis to justice.
Her assistance to the British War Crimes unit gave Celia new opportunities. What she did with them is but one of the things that makes this book fascinating. This is the story of an extraordinary woman who sought revenge only through her own good deeds.
The one thing missing from this book is what gave her the courage to go on. Alyssa A. Lappen
She was born Celia Landau and changed her name to Lucille. She and her sister Karin were the products of a very close knit family completely torn apart by the Third Reich. Her father gets sent off to a labor camp and a year later they are delivered a box of what supposedly contains his ashes. Eventually Celia, Karin and mother are sent to the Lodz ghetto where surviving is difficult and their mother eventually dies of starvation. Celia's account of this is very sad and moving. She then tells a story of a tender love affair with Szaja in the ghetto, and befriends an elderly couple named Jules and Julius who ironically after liberation, she winds up marrying their son when she moves to New York.
She and her sister Karin are then sent to Auschwitz. Poor Karin is so devastated and having trouble surviving day to day after losing both her parents. Celia's heart is again broken when Karin is not chosen in the selection and is loaded up into a truck and never seen again.
Celia is only weeks away from death when Auschwitz gets liberated. She goes into detail her life after the camps including her testimony during war crimes trials that helped put many of the SS in prison.
She also tells her experiences of going back to Europe in 1991 for the first time since she left. The hostility and indifference against Jews was still alive.
This book is highly recommended. Well written.
List price: $25.00 (that's 30% off!)