Children's Literature - Marilyn CourtotCan Hershel really rid the village synagogue of goblins? He successfully uses his wits to oust the eight creatures haunting the old synagogue and who are preventing the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah. Kimmel provides a humorous, entertaining and just slightly scary story for all young readers. Hyman's illustrations emphasize all of the tension with dark scenes of the goblins and their attempts to frighten Hershel. A Caldecott Honor Book.
Bobbie CombsHyman's pictures are filled with drama, expressive people and ugly goblins, and on the last page there's an author's note with an explanation of the history and symbols of Hanukkah.
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin GrossLight the candles! Spin the dredel! Celebrate the silver anniversary of the iconic holiday classic! Hanukkah wouldn’t be Hanukkah with at least one visit to Ostropol where villager Hershel vows to rid the synagogue of an assortment of goblins that are preventing the townspeople from celebrating the holiday. Hershel takes on the challenge of making the Goblin King light candles for eight nights to defeat the goblins’ curse. On each night the goblins grow, from small and silly; to fat and goofy; to the ultimately evil of the King of the Goblins. Hershel uses the goblins’ own foolishness and ego to trick them into participating in the holiday celebration, which leads to their destruction. The goblins’ defeat comes with the use of very mundane items: a boiled egg, a jar of pickles, and a dreidel game played to Hershel’s advantage. The final confrontation is a battle of wits between the Goblin King and the trickster human, but the explosive conclusion is as satisfying now as it was a quarter century ago. Of course, the modern folktale is perfectly complemented by Trina Schart Hyman’s moody yet laughable illustrations that are the clear stars of the book. Missing from this new edition is the explanation of Hanukkah and instructions on how to play dreidel in a non-goblin duping manner. The afterword offers some inspiration for writers as Kimmel shares how his story was repeatedly rejected by publishing houses and was ultimately printed only as a substitute piece for Cricket Magazine. Adults will appreciate Kimmel’s amended account of his story’s repeated rejections in the very competitive world of children’s book publishing. This story begs for classroom reading to children old enough to sit through a wordier tale. Expand the book with traditional Hanukkah stories or other goblin tales like Sendak’s Outside Over There. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 5 to 10.
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