The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket (J)

The Latke Who Couldnt Stop Screaming

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story     

Lemony Snicket (Juvenile Fiction)

“This story ends in someone’s mouth, but it begins in a tiny village more or less covered in snow.”

This is no ordinary Christmas story.  This is a story of a latke—that delicious, traditional part of the Hanukah celebration.  This particular latke talks—food and animals often talk in stories such as this—and this talking latke is trying very hard to explain exactly what it is and what it represents.  It’s not having much luck.  Well, YOU try explaining Hanukah to a string of lights, a candy cane, and a pine tree…ALL of which keep comparing your traditions to Christmas.  Hanukah is NOT Christmas.  It’s a totally different thing.  Will they EVER get it right?

In true Lemony Snicket spirit, this story is a wickedly funny and dastardly delightful tale about likenesses, differences, traditions, and the need to find a common thread that connects us all.  This book is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to the history of Hanukah and the symbolism behind the eight-day celebration.  Pre-readers can become a fun and interactive part of the story by providing the AAAHHHHHHHH!!! parts that the latke screams out of frustration.  Snicket describes this as “A Christmas Story”, but Hanukah is a totally different thing.  Just ask the latke.

Lemony Snicket has entertained readers with a number of unpleasant books, but this one offers a sweet and valuable lesson.  When the latke explains how Christmas and Hanukah are completely different things, this time to a pine tree, the tree replies, “But different things can often blend together.”  It would serve us all well to carry this message with us, not just at Christmas or Hanukah, but during all the days of the year.  Different things can indeed blend together—like applesauce or sour cream blends with, for instance, latkes!  AAAHHHHHHHH!!!

Rating: 4/5

Posted: 12/11/2018

* Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com 

 

The True Gift: A Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan (J)

The True Gift

The True Gift: A Christmas Story    

Patricia MacLachlan (Juvenile Fiction)

Lily and Liam are off to Grandpa and Gran’s farm for Christmas.  They always go in December and then wait for Mama and Papa to join them on Christmas Day.  Lily likes the sameness that this time of year brings:  the walks into town, the trip to the lilac library, and helping Gran make cookies.  But when her brother spots a white cow standing alone in a snowy meadow, Lily’s predictable holiday is suddenly threatened.  “Do we know if she’s lonely?” Liam asks his sister.  “She’s a cow,” replies Lily.  “Cows don’t care.”  But Liam cares and because of this, Lily knows that White Cow is bound to ruin everything…especially Christmas.

From the author who delighted us with Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan gives readers another book filled with compassion, love, and family.  She introduces us to Lily, a young girl who finds herself angered by her brother’s selfless desire to help a creature that finds itself quite alone on Christmas.  Fortunately, Liam’s determined desire to bring comfort to this lonely creature is enough to eventually whittle down Lily’s stubborn defenses until at last, she surprises herself by whispering to White Cow one night, “Don’t worry.  We’ll take care of you.”  Those few words set in motion a turning of Lily’s heart, as well as the fate of another soul in need of rescuing.

The True Gift shows us that any small act of kindness isn’t truly small at all.  By giving us a simple story of a young girl, a small boy, and a lonely white cow, MacLachlan reminds us that Christmas is about giving from the heart and that the act of bestowing even the slightest bit of charity to another being is perhaps one of the truest gifts of all.

Rating: 4/5

Posted: 12/4/2018

* Book cover image attributed to www.barnesandnoble.com