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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A.…

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

by Eric A. Kimmel

Other authors: Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

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This is a children's book that is well written and informative with wonderful illustrations. It was recommended by a young Jewish friend who said it was his favorite holiday book when he was a child. I can see why he liked it. I read it to my grand-daughters and they enjoyed it and loved the illustrations. They also learned something about the celebration of Hanukkah (as did I!). ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
Well deserving of a Caldecott honor, this is a tale of Hershel of Ostropol who is a wanderer and a bit of a trickster. As he comes to a darkened village on the first night of Hanukkah, we wonders why the candles are not lit. It is a bitter cold, snowy evening and he is told that the festival of Hanukkah cannot be celebrated because the synagogue is captured by nasty, evil, vile goblins.

Should he be able to light eight candles in front of the goblins, the curse will be lifted. Using his trickster, cunning ways, he succeeds in freeing the town of the curse.
  Whisper1 | Jul 26, 2015 |
I love this story! The author and illustrator took a familiar trickster from Jewish lore and created a clever, humorous, and engrossing story that is a pleasure to read. The story begins on a cold and snowy evening, as Hershel of Ostropol is looking for a warm rest in the nearest village. When he arrives, however, he is dismayed to find every house dark, even though it is the first day of Hanukkah. When he queries the villagers about their dismal appearance, they reveal that they can't celebrate Hanukkah. Apparently, a roost of goblins is terrorizing their town: they blow out the candles, break their dreidels, and throw their latkes on the floor. The only way to stop the goblins is to stay in the old synagogue on the hill overlooking the town and light the menorah each night. Hershel proclaims that he is not afraid of goblins, and sets out to rid the village of their pests.

Each night, as Hershel is about to light the menorah, a goblin pays him a visit. They try to frighten him and threaten to harm him, but Hershel consistently outwits the monsters, and sets that night's candle aflame. He tricks one goblin by showing that he can crush rocks with his bare hands (using boiled eggs), and outwits another one by playing a game of dreidel (with rules made up to always be in Hershel's favor). Each night the goblins are larger, but Hershel always finds just the right ploy to keep himself safe and light another menorah candle. Finally, on the last night of Hanukkah, the king of the goblins comes to call. He is by far the scariest of the lot, but Hershel uses the perfect trick to get under the skin of the goblin king - he pretends to be thoroughly unimpressed. Eventually, the king of goblins lights a candle so that Hershel can see him and be properly awed, unaware that he himself is lighting the last candle on the menorah. The spell is broken, the goblins are whisked away in a supernatural whirlwind of destruction, and all that remains on the hill is Hershel and his table with a lit menorah.

While I have bought several picture books on Hanukkah for more educational reasons, and in my ongoing mission to provide multicultural resources for my daughters, this book I bought simply for the amazing story. I love trickster stories and folktales, and particularly enjoy those that deal with clever protagonists outwitting monsters bigger and scarier than them. The writing is crisp and descriptive, and the tricks Hershel uses are believable satisfying. The illustrations are lovely, with detailed drawings of the people and appropriately grotesque goblins. In my opinion, the book deserves the Caldecott award, not just the honor, because the illustrations interact with the text to create an excellent picture book. ( )
  nmhale | Jan 19, 2015 |
This is my favorite Chanukah stories. My Dad is Jewish so my brother and I grew up hearing this story. I love the pictures and I love the trickery by Hershel. It won an award, and even though it was published years ago I had to read it again for this class just to remember how much I loved it. What's great about this book is you don't have to be Jewish, or know anything about Chanukah to enjoy this book. The holiday is nearly a backdrop for this tale. ( )
  Brettch | Dec 8, 2013 |
Hershel of Ostropol outwits goblins who have prevented a village from celebrating Hanukkah. SPOILER: One goblin thinks Hershel is strong enough to crush rocks when Hershel squeezes an egg in his hands. One goblin's hand gets stuck in a pickle jar because he won't let go of the pickle he has grabbed in the jar; rather like the story of the monkey who does something similar. One goblin can't help but lose when he plays dreidel according to Hershel's rules. The summary of the holiday at the end is brief and reasonable. While the story may not seem at first blush to have anything to do with the meaning of Hanukkah, as other reviewers have pointed out, Hershel defeats a powerful foe so that Jews are able to practice their religion.
  raizel | Jul 24, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric A. Kimmelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hyman, Trina SchartIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Important places
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Awards and honors
To Nana E.A.K.
For Linda Stein, with love T.S.H.
The J. Joseph Family
c. 2  The Steselboim Family 2013
First words
It was the first night of Hanukkah.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0823411311, Paperback)

What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are bound and determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up. Using his wits and a few props--pickles, eggs, and a dreidel (a square-shaped top with Hebrew letters on each side)--Hershel manages to outwit all the creepy critters and break the spell. This fabulously creative adaptation of the ancient Hanukkah story in which the Syrians forbade the Jews to worship as they wanted, keeps the spirit of the original while adding a spine-tingling twist. Warmth and humor prevail, even in the midst of hopeless-looking circumstances. Award-winning illustrator Trina Schart Hyman creates lively and witty pictures that pair perfectly with Eric Kimmel's words to create this Caldecott Honor Book. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:47 -0400)

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Relates how Hershel outwits the goblins that haunt the old synagogue and prevent the village people from celebrating Hanukkah.

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