Review: A Wild, Wild Hanukkah

A Wild, Wild Hanukkah

by Jo Gershman & Bob Strauss, illustrated by Jo Gershman

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Arlene Schenker

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This book is a lovable rhyming tale of different wild animals invading a home each night of Hanukkah. The rhymes roll off the tongue with wonderful alliteration, sure to delight children.

The illustrations are mesmerizing, with large depictions of animals seemingly jumping off the page. They remind me of Maurice Sendak’s “wild things,” though Gershman uses brighter and more vibrant colors. Perhaps the authors are giving a nod to Where the Wild Things Are in their choice of book title?
The illustrations also add a fun element to the narrative. Have you ever seen a tiger juggling eggs or punk-rock penguins spinning dreidels? There are pages with no text at all, perfectly appropriate where the illustrations pull the reader right into the story.

The Jewish content is related simply to the joy of Hanukkah and making latkes, so it will be very accessible to Jewish and non-Jewish families alike, and an explanation of Hanukkah follows the story. The holiday is obviously integral to the story. There is also a counting element to the story since the number of animal invaders corresponds to each night of Hanukkah. It is a rollicking read-aloud and a treat for the eyes.

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Reviewer Arlene Schenker has a degree in Child Development from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from New York University Law School. She has worked as a New York City primary grade teacher, a lawyer, divorce mediator, and a community activist and volunteer. She now spends most of her time reading and writing picture books.