Review: Puppy for Hanukkah


Puppy for Hanukkah

by Nancy Parent, illustrated by the Disney Storybook Art Team

Little Golden Books (imprint of Random House Disney), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Ann D. Koffsky

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Building on Daveed Digg’s video that went viral last year, Puppy for Hanukkah by Nancy Parent follows a young boy through the eight days of Hanukkah as he enjoys lighting candles, playing dreidel, eating latkes, and tearing open presents. But what he REALLY wants for Hanukkah is a puppy. Will he get one? (Spoiler alert: he does!)

The book’s text feels like it has two authors. Excerpts from Digg’s original rap are set in italics, while Parent’s words are set alongside them in roman type. Digg’s words are rhythmic and rappy, while Parent’s words do the heavy lifting of explaining the holiday to the uninitiated: that it’s eight days long, there’s a miracle, and you can eat your latkes with sour cream.

What’s most remarkable -even revolutionary- about this deceptively simple Disney book is how ordinary it is. The main character is African American, and so are most of his family and friends. The diversity is not preached. It just IS. The ordinariness is a breath of fresh air.

The illustrations have the trademark Disney polish to them. They are gleaming and glittery with Disney style characters, and indeed, if you picked it up and just looked at the palette, you might confuse it with Aladdin. Both of have lots of the same purple tones and sparkles.

My only nitpick is that there were a couple of lines in Digg’s original rap that got cut, including this favorite couplet of mine:
"That blessing is a bop, now I've said it
Not sure what it means, but I learned it phonetic"

Puppy for Hanukkah is definitely a book that parents will want to share with their children. It’s gives us all what we want for Hanukkah: not a puppy, but a joyful tale of a family enjoying Jewish traditions. The book certainly meets the criteria for consideration for the SydneyTaylor Book Award. It reflects the Jewish traditions, and demonstrates a broad diversity of the Jewish experience.
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Reviewer Ann D. Koffsky is the author and illustrator of more than forty books, including WHAT'S IN TULI'S BOX? the KAYLA AND KUGEL series, and the forthcoming UNDER THE SEA SEDER. She also creates free coloring pages for the Jewish holidays, which you can sign up to receive on her website at