My family room coffee table is covered with picture books of the season. In honor of Hanukkah, tonight we read Eric Kimmel's marvelous Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. This is one my very favorite read-alouds to share. Eric Kimmel is a commanding storyteller. I treasure my signed copy of this classic.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, 1989
Hershel is courageous and cunning as he faces some evil goblins who ruin Hanukkah for the town folk every year. In order to break their evil hold over the village, someone must stay in the old synagogue for the eight nights of the festival and light the menorah there each night. Hershel volunteers for the job.This is a story that rivets young (and old) listeners. Kimmel relates this folktale with his full storyteller's voice. The book won a Caldecott honor in 1990 for good reason. The story and the illustrations beautifully balance humor and "scary." Trina Schart Hyman's finely drawn characters and setting pull the reader into the danger. The shadows in the old building are deep. Her goblins are at once comical and horrific. A dreidel playing goblin is grotesque with horns and multiple noses yet his dopey expression invites laughter. The skeletal hand of the King of the Goblins is silhouetted against a fire red background as Hershel (and the listeners and readers) look on with horror. Yet, Hershel outwits the demons and when he triumphs each night, the glow of the candles signals the power of faith over the darkness.