Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday Book #4

Beni's First Chanukah, written and illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben is another blast from the past. Written almost 20 years ago, the reader follows Beni, a bear that is very excited about his first Chanukah. The first Chanukah he can actually enjoy and remember that is! On the morning of the first day, Beni helps his mother prepare latkes and doughnuts for his family, traditional Chanukah food, and then spends the rest of his morning visiting with friends Sasha and Christopher, two squirrels, and helping them to decorate their Christmas tree.

That evening, Sasha and Christopher join Beni and his family in the lighting of the menorah, playing games with the driedel, and listening to the story of Chanukah. Once the night is over, Beni declares that it was the best Chanukah ever! At the end of the story there is a recipe included for Mama's Latkes, which was a nice surprise!

Stories that combine different traditions and beliefs are always my favorite. Beni was able to help his friends decorate their Christmas tree, but was also able to teach them about Chanukah. This is a great book for younger children that get bored with too many words and not enough pictures. The illustrations are beautifully done, and though the story is short, it's message is easily relayed.

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