Review: Happy Llamakkah!


Happy Llamakkah! by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Lydia Nichols

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel Kamin

Llamas started showing up on goofy Hanukkah sweaters, t-shirts, greeting cards, wrapping paper and more since as early as 2016 so it was only a matter of time before someone turned the catch phrase "Happy Llamakkah!” into a children’s book. With a simple rhyming text, a family of llamas and their friends light the menorah, spin the dreidel, fry latkes, sing songs, and eat donuts and chocolate gelt. Adorable, bright, festive illustrations depicting a multi-generational llama family add to the fun and a rather comprehensive author’s note adds value to this quirky, gimmicky addition to the “animals celebrating Hanukkah” canon that began in 1988 with Jane Breskin Zalben’s bears (Beni's First Chanukah), rabbits (Hanukkah Delight! by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Amy Husband, and Hoppy Hanukkah! by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Daniel Howarth), gorillas (Esther's Hanukkah Disaster by Jane Sutton, illustrated by Andy Rowland), mice (The Hanukkah Mice by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Michelle Shapiro, Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Susan L. Roth, and several others), and even dinosaurs (How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague and Dinosaur on Hanukkah by Diane Levin Rauchwerger, illustrated by Jason Wolff) all celebrate Hanukkah so, why not llamas?

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!


A synagogue librarian since 1997, reviewer Rachel Kamin is currently the Director of the Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. She served as chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and as the Book Review Editor for Children & Teens for AJL Reviews. She authors articles and reviews for BookLinks, The Jewish Book Council, Judaica Librarianship, Library Journal, and School Library Journal. She contributed a chapter on children’s books to The Tot Shabbat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Engaging Young Families in Congregational Life edited by Paula Feldstein (URJ Press, 2010) and co-authored a chapter on Jewish children’s literature for a forthcoming book on diversity in non-fiction for the National Council of Teachers of English.