The Trees of the Dancing Goats

The Trees of the Dancing Goats

4.2 5
by Patricia Polacco

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TRISHA LOVES THE eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family's preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating…  See more details below


TRISHA LOVES THE eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family's preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha's family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won't be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors. "But what can we decorate them with?" Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa's carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees-but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season.

Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Polacco's (Babushka's Doll) warmhearted memoir can easily be pressed into double duty for both Hanukkah and Christmas reading. On the family farm in Michigan, Trisha and Richard watch as Babushka and Grampa prepare for Hanukkah in their native Russian way, hand-dipping the candles, carving the children gifts of little wooden animals, cooking the latkes. When scarlet fever debilitates their neighbors, Trisha's whole family pitches in to make and deliver holiday dinners and Christmas trees (decorated with the children's wooden animals). Polacco's characteristically buoyant illustrations embody the joy of holiday traditions even as her robust storytelling locates the essence of that joy in sharing and friendship. While this work should have broad appeal, it is in particular an excellent choice for families seeking to mingle Jewish and Christian traditions. Ages 5-10. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
In the season that celebrates miracles, a Jewish family in Michigan is preparing for the Hanukkah feast when they learn that most of their neighbors are ill with scarlet fever. Their festivities take a turn toward charity and they are blessed by the best holiday ever. Award-winning author Polacco spices her story with heartwarming values and memories of her own Russian grandparents. 1996, Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 10, $16.00 and $22.00 (CD edition,
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
In another story about her family, Polacco relates a story of friendship that takes place during the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. Their friends and neighbors are stricken with scarlet fever, and are too ill to prepare for Christmas. Trisha and her family decide to create Christmas trees and decorate then with the beautiful carved animals Grandpa makes for Hanukkah. They cook food, decorate each tree with a little dancing goat and other homemade decorations and deliver their gifts to the neighbors. Their kindness begets other acts of giving and sharing. A warm and wonderful message in the true spirit of the holidays. The book is also available with a CD in which Polacco reads the story accompanied by music. 1996, Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 10, $16.00 and $22.00 (CD edition,
Children's Literature
Two farming families, living half a mile apart in rural Michigan, celebrate very different traditions with their winter holidays, but their friendship is rock solid in a time of crisis. In another of her marvelous autobiographical stories, the author, Trish in the book, remembers her Ukrainian Babushka (grandmother) hand-dipping the candles for the Hanukkah menorah while her Georgian/Russian grandfather carves wondrous wooden animals and figures, brightly painted and the most wonderful gifts in the world. This year an epidemic of the contagious disease, scarlet fever, prevents most of their neighbors from preparing for Christmas. In a practical but kindly way, the family goes from house to house bringing roast chicken, latkes (potato pancakes) and also tiny trees decorated with dancing goats and other painted figures; leaving presents and at every house a candle "So they will have the light of God in their hearts...and so that God will protect them and make them well again." Their unselfishness is returned in a lovely way when the neighbors recover and come visiting them. Polacco's storytelling is faultless, as are her marking pen and pencil illustrations 2000 (orig. 1996), Aladdin, $6.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Another lovely autobiographical snippet from Polacco. The story centers around Trisha and her family as they make loving preparations for Hanukkah, especially her Grampa, who carves wooden toys for the children for each day of the Festival of Lights. When several families in their farm community come down with scarlet fever, Grampa and Babushka realize that their neighbors won't be able to celebrate their holiday properly and take Christmas trees and baskets of food to them. The blending of the two holidays is touching and heartfelt. Polacco's warmly detailed illustrations enrich this tender tale about the true nature of giving, of being good neighbors, and of celebration.-Ann Cook, Winter Park Public Library, FL
Kirkus Reviews
A generous act in a time of need is the highlight of this unforced Hanukkah/Christmas tale from Polacco (Babushka's Mother Goose, 1995, etc.). The narrator recalls the bustle of her family's Michigan farmhouse years ago as Hanukkah approached, with women and children clustering in the kitchen and Grampa, in his workshop, busily carving and painting small animals as gifts. Their non-Jewish neighbors celebrate a different December holiday with different customs but the same spirit—until one year when all are bedridden with scarlet fever. It seems only right to make a Christmas tree for each—but what can they use for decorations? Grampa's animals, of course. Polacco's familiar medley of bright striped and floral print clothing surrounding friendly pink faces creates a perfect visual counterpart to her well-told, sentimental story. Make sure readers have their hankies ready.

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Paperback & CD
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 9.84(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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The Trees of the Dancing Goats 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
BookWorldBabe More than 1 year ago
As the #1 Patricia Polacco fan, I bought this book with huge expectations, which were of course met! Beautiful, sweet story with absolutely gorgeous illustrations, it's not just for children to enjoy but the whole family! And it makes the perfect Christmas present. Definitely buy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful story of love and acceptance between families with different religions and traditions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this book I thought it looked boring by the cover but when I read it, it was a wonderful book. Patricia had a good imagination in writing this book because she put in the story the grandpa carved dancing goats and hung them on a tree. This story also has a lot of traditions. This book teaches a lot about friendship and love. In the story, the little girl was happy that her mother was coming to see her but the mother got sick. At the end, the mother got better. The mother cared about others and she was the reason why I chose this book to write about. This story had some hard words like Hanukkah and Spizerinkto but it was still fun to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a third grade teacher, I found this story to be an incredibly touching and humanistic vehicle in order to discuss both the traditions of Chanukah and Christmas. This loving story is about people who know the true meaning of giving. It is one of the best holiday books written to demonstrate to children that we are put on earth to help and care for one another (without regard for religion or race). I can guarantee reading this book during the holidays will be a moving experience for young and old alike. Bravo Patricia!!!