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The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah

The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah

4.2 7
by Bill Berlin, Susan Berlin, Peter Welling (Illustrator)

In the town of Oyville, the children were preparing for Hanukkah. But the kvetch who lived high on the hill said what he said every year: "The latkes smell bad, the dreidels make me dizzy, and to hear children laugh puts me in a tizzy." This year, will Hanukkah represent another great miracle, finally bringing a smile to the kvetch's face?


In the town of Oyville, the children were preparing for Hanukkah. But the kvetch who lived high on the hill said what he said every year: "The latkes smell bad, the dreidels make me dizzy, and to hear children laugh puts me in a tizzy." This year, will Hanukkah represent another great miracle, finally bringing a smile to the kvetch's face?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Parody is a tricky thing. Done well, it can be smart and funny, a way to poke fun at familiar literature. Done badly, it can fall as flat as a latke (potato pancake). Unfortunately, this poorly done rip-off of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is of the latke variety. There is nothing Seussical or even mirthful about this tale of a town crump (the town is, unfortunately, called Oyville) who finds no delight in Hanukkah and vows to steal menorahs, thereby plunging Oyville into gloom and darkness. While the Hanukkah party scenes in the book are multi-cultural, everyone in Oyville appears to be Jewish since every window has a menorah. Stealing all of them is a major undertaking by the Kvetch. Then he is chastised by a delegation of children who teach him the true meaning of hope that the holiday conveys, and instruct him to brighten his attitude. Unfortunately, getting to the punch line takes far too long, and the book's rhyme is awkward and irregular. The rhymes are forced ("wretched noise" rhymes with "Kvetch's loud voice"). The illustrations, touted on the flyleaf as reminiscent of Seuss, are cluttered and confusing, sort of Where's Waldo with a Yiddish accent. The pictures are flat and amateurish. The Kvetch's pet cat looks like a gremlin and walks on two feet which is just weird. There are better Hanukkah books on the market, and for a truly funny definition of kvetching, dig up a copy of Carol Chapman's The Tale of Mishke the Kvetch. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—There's a lot to kvetch about in this tale that clearly takes its inspiration from Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Random, 1957). Although the authors have made a valiant effort to mimic the structure, rhyming patterns, and message of the classic, the story focuses too intently on the kvetch and not enough on the holiday. This kvetch has an irrational fear of the Hanukkah lights. "He would dream of menorahs with their candles so bright/And awaken in terror, dripping in fright." Thus he decides to "gain control" of his fear by stealing the thing he dreads: the menorah. That's when three children appear to explain the meaning of Hanukkah. "The lights and the gifts show our dedication/To the strength and faith of our ancient nation." Lights, certainly. But gifts? On a brighter note, the colorful cartoon illustrations add some humor and raise the spirit of this otherwise mediocre offering. Unfortunately, by spending so much time on the inner life of the kvetch, this book misses the point that it seeks to make.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

With a nod to the Christmas Grinch, the Kvetch (or "complainer") of Oyville sees nothing joyous about Hanukkah and proceeds to steal all the menorahs. Like a group of determined Maccabees, the children gather to explain to the Kvetch that his thinking is all wrong: The holiday of Hanukkah is not just about glowing candles and gifts but about treasuring "true justice and charity" and showing "our dedication / To the strength and faith of our ancient nation." Forced to see his bleak world more brightly, the Kvetch resolves his bitterness and fear. The often-forced Seuss-like rhyme is accompanied by busy, unpolished cartoons of Greek warriors, Maccabee defenders and a modern-day snow-covered community. This zany approach culminates with the Kvetch's personal "great miracle" of happily lighting his own menorah. Enjoyable, if rough. (Picture book. 4-6)

Product Details

Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Bill Berlin is the senior producer and writer for Caucus: New Jersey, a national PBS public affairs series, and a host of Carpe Diem, a television show produced by Montclair State University, where he is a professor of political science. His writing has appeared in the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, among other publications

Susan Isakoff Berlin is a licensed clinical social worker and educator, who has taught in synagogue preschool programs, Jewish Community Centers, and public schools. A member of the National Association of Social Workers, her articles on such issues as parenting, aging, and bereavement have appeared in local newspapers and the New York Times.

Peter Welling is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University South Bend and the Publisher’s Choice Award for Exemplary Non-Fiction. In addition, his illustrations have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is the author and illustrator of Darlene Halloween and the Great Chicago Fire; Joe Van der Katt and the Great Picket Fence; Justin Potemkin and the 500-Mile Race; Michael Le Soufflé and the April Fool; Shawn O’Hisser, the Last Snake in Ireland; and Andrew McGroundhog and His Shady Shadow and the illustrator of The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah, What’s Up With This chicken? and Back to School, Picky Little Witch! Welling lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
sydelle More than 1 year ago
terrific story for old and young...marvelous graphics, funny and heart warming too....a must for the "family" library....just go check it out for yourself....
MYMK More than 1 year ago
You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this book! In fact, it's a lovely way for children of all religions to learn about this holiday, because all kids will be able to connect with the human emotions and life lessons in this story. The rhyming patterns are delicious, and the illustrations are so much fun! Thank you to the authors and illustrator for offering a new twist on the Hanukkah story. After all, reading the same lovely Hanukkah books every year is a nice tradition--but everyone can use a change of pace once in a while!
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
The children in Oyville are very, very excited. You see, the holiday of Hanukkah is drawing near. The girls and boys enjoy all the presents, food and festivities, but most of all, they love hearing the story of Judah Maccabee, "his bravery and toil. They imagined the Temple, its lights needing oil." Unfortunately, not everybody in Oyville is excited. You see, the town is also home to one very, very grouchy grump of an old man, ".the kvetch who lived high on the hill." While the town is a flutter with preparations for Hanukkah, the kvetch goes around grumbling and looking miserable. He thinks Hanukkah is just about presents and wants it stopped. Will he be able to stop Hanukkah? He sneaked into Oyville on Hanukkah's first night,/Helped through the dark by the menorahs' bright light./"Aha," said the kvetch, "it's time for my scheme./No more menorahs! Not another bad dream!" The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah is written in the mold of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and like the original, is quite funny and entertaining. With a wonderful rhyming tale and silly and bright artwork, the book draws readers in on the first page. Children will learn about the importance of Hanukkah, what it means, why it is celebrated, and have a lot of fun at the same time. We cheer for the kids who want to teach the kvetch the true meaning of Hanukkah and hope that the old man will see the error of his ways. And yes, there is a happy ending! Quill says: One grouchy kvetch, a group of enthusiastic children, quirky artwork and a terrific rhyming story make this book a winner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah" is a delightful, whimsical story to share with school children, your own or grandchildren.The lessons of the Festival of Lights are presented in a very child friendly and exciting manner."The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah" would be a great addition to add to your family holiday celebration whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not.
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