BY LISA SILVERMAN / DECEMBER 18, 2019
Every year, children’s publishers usually add a title or two about the Hanukkah holiday by the time December rolls around, but this year the pickings are rather slim. What is notable, however, is that the world of Jewish children’s literature has seen a sudden glut of books celebrating all things Yiddish. Included in the new books here are three Yiddish-centered picture books, one spooky chapter book about a boy, his bubbe and a modern-day Brooklyn dybbuk, and the one and only Hanukkah book celebrating an unlikely holiday food: kugel.
“Goodnight Bubbala: A Joyful Parody,” by Sheryl Haft. Illustrated by Jill Weber. (Dial Books)
The little old lady whispering “hush” from the original “Goodnight Moon” has nothing in common with this boisterous family of rabbit bubbes and zaydes and various grandchildren who descend upon a cute bubbeleh bunny getting ready for bed one Hanukkah night. They dance and sing, spin dreidels, nosh on bagels and knaidels, and play with a toy gorilla — an apparently useful item used later to rhyme with the line “the whole megillah” on the final page.
The humor here is overblown and silly, but kids familiar with the original may get a kick out of saying, “Goodnight knaidel and the shmeer on a bagel. Goodnight gelt, and goodnight dreidel, Goodnight little blocks, and goodnight tzedakah box.” You get the idea. The lively illustrations are also a parody of the original and full of Jewish ritual objects to spot and identify. Look for the “Easy Latke” recipe at the end, supplied by popular Jewish cookbook author Ina Garten. Purchase on Amazon here.