New on the preschool shelf: Hanukkah, gratitude and challah

Here are three new books for very young children that get thumbs-up reviews from the Jewish Book Council.

“ABC Hanukkah Hunt” is a bright, cheery book with a holiday theme. The clever rhymes have rhythm and meter and touch on all aspects of Hanukkah. What distinguishes this book from a crowded field is that reading it is an active experience rather than simply a passive pleasure.

Each page contains some activity that engages young minds and exercises young brains — something to find, something to mull over, something to choose, something to learn. The illustrations are bursting with color and filled with smiling faces; even the puppy boasts a happy Hanukkah smile! This charmer is recommended for ages 3-8. — michal hoschander malen

“ABC Hanukkah Hunt” by Tilda Balsley, illustrations by Helen Poole (32 pages, Kar-Ben Publishing, $7.95)


The lyrics of musician Rick Recht’s lullaby are paired with artist Ann Koffsky’s bright and whimsical illustrations in “Thank You for Me!,” a cheerful and upbeat board book for the youngest of the young as they are introduced to the concept of appreciation for what they have.

A link to a music download of the lullaby is included, as is a link to coloring pages by the artist.

The illustrations are quietly multicultural and include one of a child in a wheelchair among a group of children. This is a simple, sweet parent-and-child experience and is recommended for reading and singing aloud to children ages infant to 3. — michal hoschander malen

“Thank You for Me!” by Rick Recht, illustrations by Ann Koffsky (14 pages, Jewish World Publishing, $10)


In “Rise and Shine: A Challah-Day Tale,” Sammy and Sophie are rummaging around their attic and find a crumpled piece of paper. They try to make sense of it but don’t even recognize the letters. When they take it to their Grandma Gert, who lives at the Shalom House, Grandma and her friends help decipher the Yiddish text. It is a recipe for challah passed down for generations. Together with the residents, Sammy and Sophie bake challah using the recipe and decide to make this activity a regular occurrence.

The imaginative and colorful illustrations add to the whimsical nature of the story. By the end of the book, the grumpy-faced uncle has the biggest smile of all and is the one who encourages continuing this tradition. Kimberly Scott has brilliantly illustrated this evolution along with showing the sweet nature of Grandma Gert.

At the end of the tale the author provides a recipe in English for making challah. This is a wonderful way to encourage readers to continue the tradition in their own homes. Recommended for ages 3-8. — drora arussy

“Rise and Shine: A Challah-Day Tale” by Karen Ostrove, illustrations by Kimberly Scott (24 pages, Kar-Ben Publishing, $17.95)