cover image Hanukkah, Shmanukkah!

Hanukkah, Shmanukkah!

Esme Raji Codell, , illus. by LeUyen Pham. . Hyperion, $16.99 (53pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-5179-9

Taking her inspiration from A Christmas Carol , Codell (Sahara Special ) spins out the journey of Scroogemacher, a Jewish sweatshop owner in the early 20th century. His guides are the Rabbis of Hanukkah Past, Present and Future—the last, much to Scroogemacher's amazement, being a woman. The text-heavy tale wears its lefty heart a bit proudly on its sleeve, but moves along briskly, thanks to the author's enthusiasm for Yiddishkeit (there's a glossary at the back) and Pham's (Big Sister, Little Sister , reviewed Aug. 22) burnished, emotionally heightened realistic paintings. Jewish families who believe the line between Hanukkah and Christmas is already too blurry may balk at the premise. But this is funny, fresh and perceptive. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)