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Mendel is always messing up. So, no one is more surprised than he, when the rabbi asks him to drive the Mitzvah Mobile through the streets of New York and invite everyone to the Chanukkah bash. What if he messes up again? As Mendel begins to spread the joy of the holiday, he learns that mistakes can happen and sometimes the results can be miraculous.
Size: 9" x 11"
Reading age: 4 - 8 years
Grade level: Preschool - 3
Publisher: Kalaniot Books (October 25, 2022)
Mendel’s Hanukkah Mess Up [Hardcover]
By: Chana and Larry Stiefe
Illustrated by: Daphna Awadish
About the Author:
Chana Stiefel is the author of more than 25 books for children, both fiction and nonfiction. Chana loves visiting schools and libraries and sharing her passion for reading and writing with children. Her husband Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician and author of the The Maggid of Bergenfield short story blog, from which this book was created. Chana and Larry have four children and live in New Jersey.
Daphna Awadish is an Israeli illustrator and filmmaker living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and from AKV St. Joost Master Institute of Visual Cultures.
STARRED REVIEW K-Gr 3–It's nearing Hanukkah, Mendel's favorite Jewish holiday. But Mendel does not have a great history with celebrating Hanukkah. There's always something that he messes up, like using a sparkler to light the menorah or making the latkes with a few too many onions. This year the rabbi has asked Mendel to drive the Mitzvah Mobile, spread the word about the party, and share the meaning behind the holiday. Mendel is nervous. It all goes well until the menorah on top of the Mitzvah Mobile hits the overpass. This brings news vans to where Mendel is waiting with his ruined truck. Rather than make another mistake, Mendel uses this opportunity to share the meaning of Hanukkah with all the viewers. Arriving at the holiday party, Mendel is braced for the worst; but Rabbi Klein is not mad at all. He exclaims “You should be proud! We saw you on the news! You told the whole world the story of Hanukkah. And that's what this holiday is all about-sharing the miracles!” This is a unique Hanukkah story; the text is strongly written with an identity of its own. It has a clear point of view, and readers can easily empathize with Mendel. The writing is paired with fun and childlike art, done with markers, that truly helps tell the story and makes readers feel Mendel's every emotion. Robust back matter includes information about Hanukkah, songs, a recipe, and more.VERDICT This fun, unique Hanukkah story is one that stands out. A must-purchase for holiday collections. -- Sarah West - School Library Journal, October 14, 2022
Set in a modern-day, religiously observant Jewish community-geographic details in Awadish's freewheeling, marker-textured drawings point to New York City-the Steifels' slice-of-life Hanukkah story tells of classic schlemiel Mendel, portrayed with light skin and red hair, who continually provokes cries of “Oy, Mendel!” His mishaps include putting sparklers instead of candles on the menorah and setting a tray of sufganiyot on the rabbi's chair. Asked to drive the rabbi's menorah-topped Mitzvah Mobile around town and invite everyone to the big Hanukkah bash, Mendel messes up yet again, and big time-wrecking the van and causing a major traffic pileup. But when a TV reporter sticks a mic in Mendel's face and asks, “What's the story here?” he relates the history of Hanukkah and makes his community proud. The ending is like applesauce on latke: “That's what this holiday is all about,” beams Mendel's rabbi, “sharing the miracles!” Back matter includes a holiday history, Yiddish glossary, and recipe. Ages 4–8. - Publishers Weekly, September 12, 2022
Mendel loves Hanukkah but is prone to, and known for, making mistakes. He over-onions the latkes, for example, and uses sparklers in place of Hanukkah candles. “Oy, Mendel!” When Rabbi Klein asks him to drive the Mitzvah Mobile to spread the word about the big Hanukkah bash, everyone is nervous. Things go surprisingly well-at first. Details in the childlike illustrations give this community lots of personality; and Mendel's personal journey very loosely mirrors the Hanukkah story in a lighthearted way. “A Brief History of Hanukkah,” a glossary, and some holiday activities are appended. -- Elissa Gershowitz - The Horn Book, October 4, 2022
Mendel loves Hanukkah festivities, but his preparations represent one misstep after another. He switches sparklers for candles; his latkes are onion-laden. Just when he's decided to get out of Hanukkah's away, his rabbi asks him to drive the Mitvah Mobile around town. One crash later, Mendel is a television spectacle-and then he realizes that he can use the attention to share the story of the Maccabees with all. Expressive artwork emphasizes this celebratory book's message of cheer and community sharing. -- Michelle Anne Schingler - Foreword Reviews, November/December 2022
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