Childrens books brighten Chanukah

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penny schwartz | jta

boston | Eight wild and crazy nights, creative cut-outs and rhyming sing-song highlight a few new Chanukah children’s books.

“Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale,” by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by David Udovic.

Delightful holiday mischief reigns in this zany story of a family’s eight-day celebration. It’s hard to decide which is more hilarious, Cleary’s lighthearted, antic-filled, rhyming prose or the uproar of Udovic’s cartoon-like illustrations that nearly jump off each two-page spread of this 21-page tale.

On the first night, Miss Fetter’s pint-sized shaggy dog dressed in an angora sweater wreaks havoc as it nearly topples over the menorah, chases the cat and causes Aunt Myra to spill the platter of applesauce.

More adventures await with a tale from Grandpa sure to please the bathroom-humor crowd, chocolate gelt melting in the VCR, and the arrival of 17 step-cousins.

“The Miracle of Hanukkah,” by Seymour Chwast.

In this captivating book, the Chanukah story is retold in a unique stepped-page format.

Chwast, an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator, starts with small, illustrated cutouts and creates new images with each page that grow as the story progresses. The effect is dazzling and fun.

The narrative, with the Maccabees’ triumphant victory, is told in simple prose embellished with outlined illustrations that evoke the Temple era.

“I Have a Little Dreidel,” by Maxie Baum, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

Children will tap their feet along with the two rhyming stories in one based on the well-known, popular song of the same name. A young girl with braids proudly holds up her little dreidel, inviting young readers to celebrate Chanukah with her cousins, aunts and uncles. Plenty of latkes, dreidels, menorah lighting, singing and dancing in this warmly illustrated story.

Paschkis uses a paper-cut design, simple illustrations and a boldly colored palette to enliven the story. Easy-to-read verse is set apart at the bottom of each page surrounded by intricate blue-and-white designs of Jewish symbols.

“Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale” by Brian P. Cleary (24 pages, Kar-Ben Publisher, $7.95).

“The Miracle of Hanukkah” by Seymour Chwast (28 pages, $14.95, Blue Apple).

“I Have a Little Dreidel” by Maxie Baum (32 pages, Cartwheel Books, $9.99).