105 Ways to Give a Book

Break For Hanukkah

Now I’m Jewish like Britney Spears is a brunette — occasionally and with some effort — but Hanukkah brings out the need to express my heritage. But being half-Jewish, I only lit the candles on the menorah four nights this year. I wish I were kidding, but it would have been funnier if the negligence were deliberate.

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop ScreamingI did celebrate with my grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins on Saturday. One of the highlights of the evening was my reading of the new Lemony Snicket book, The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming. Just hysterical. A latke runs screaming from the frying pan, and encounters various Christmas icons along its path. As the latke explains what it is and its significance in the celebration of Hanukkah, it keeps getting compared to Christmas. And so it keeps screaming.

Lemony Snicket actually gets in a fair bit about the meaning of Hanukkah, while keeping a wry tone throughout. One of my favorite parts is when the latke is explaining to Christmas lights why it is fried in oil:
“Because I’m a latke,” said the latke. “The olive oil reminds us of the oil used to rededicate the temple following the defeat of Antiochus at the hands of the Maccabees. The oil was only supposed to last for one night but there was a miracle and it lasted for eight. Plus frying makes my skin crispy and brown.”

“So you’re basically hash browns,” said the flashing colored lights. “Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham.”

“I’m not hash browns!” cried the latke. “I’m something completely different!”
And then it runs screaming, “AAAHHHHHHHHH!” for two pages.

It’s lots of fun to read aloud, either to a crowd of adults and kids at a Hanukkah celebration, or to a class of third or fifth graders at school. This book will be a must-read every year.

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah, and before I try making my own latkes, I wanted to leave you with my favorite comedy bit of the season. It’s Steven Colbert on The Daily Show, and it cracks me up every time. (“Rosh Hashanah?” “Okay, now you’re just making words up.”) Enjoy.


Bkbuds said...

That was a very funny video. Thanks for sharing! And we loved the latke book around here too.

Chappy Chanukkah, dahling!

web said...

It took years for us to manage to light the candles every night, so cut yourself some slack. :-)

Saints and Spinners said...

My father's side of the family is Jewish, but it wasn't until we moved to the Washington D.C. area that my family started celebrating some of the Jewish holidays. I thought I had the best of both worlds, i.e. presents on Christmas and Hanukkah, until I found out that we weren't getting a present for each of the 8 nights. (I made up for it, though, by getting quite tipsy for the first time during a Seder. Aieee.)

Phyllis Sommer said...

i loved the latke book too. great post! happy chanukah a bit late;-)