Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Eric Kimmel)

Hello friends, and happy first night of Hanukkah! In honor of the occasion, our book today is the special 25th Anniversary edition of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

Traveling through the frigid snow on the first night of Hanukkah, Hershel of Ostropol is surprised to come upon a town that is dark and silent; no merriment from its citizens, no scent of potato latkes, and no candles blazing in the menorahs. The townspeople explain that they are under a curse by goblins, who hate Hanukkah and destroy any signs of it on sight. Hershel takes it upon himself to break the curse, volunteering to go to the town’s deserted synagogue and battle the goblins each night – with his wits and courage, rather than his brawn – to restore the town’s right to celebrate. Can he defeat the goblins, including the terrifying Goblin King?

Entertaining and enduring. Kimmel’s tale of one man outwitting a band of hateful creatures who would destroy the traditions of the Jewish faith is timeless and, considering recent events, timely as well. Hershel’s trials against the goblins are as exciting as they are funny, and young readers will root for the hero’s victory. Hyman’s art is beautifully detailed and atmospheric, and her character design, especially for the formidable and mysterious goblin king, is stunning (this edition included a fold-out poster of the goblin king’s arrival, and it’s a wonderful bonus). The length and subject matter are best for older elementary kiddos, but JJ was riveted and cheered for each of Hershel’s victories. At a time when Judaism is under attack, this empowering contemporary Jewish fable feels like a perfect read to celebrate the Hanukkah season. Overall, we loved it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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