Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Holiday House, 1985, 1989
A Caldecott Honor Book
From the dust jacket: “It is the first night of Hanukkah. Hershel of Ostropol is walking down the road. Tired and hungry, he is looking forward to reaching the net village. He is sure that bright candles, merry songs, and platters of potato latkes will be waiting for him. But when he reaches the village, Hershel discovers that the villagers aren’t celebrating Hanukkah. They’re too scared of the goblins that haunt the old synagogue at the top of the hill. Hershel wants to help the village people. “If I can’t outwit a few goblins,” Hershel tells the rabbi, “then my name isn’t Hershel of Ostropol.” Hershel comes up with several ingenious ideas for tricking the goblins in this original Hanukkah tale.”
If you like goblins, this is the story for you!! It’s a fun (and just a wee bit scary) tale of an ordinary man outsmarting some comical goblins. While the story itself doesn’t directly tell why Hanukkah is celebrated, it carries the theme of freedom. The villagers aren’t free to worship as they desire until Hershel comes along and refuses to give in to the evil surrounding the town, which in effect, is the story of Hanukkah. (If the reader isn’t familiar with Hanukkah, there is a brief synopsis at the end of the book.) The text is medium size, good for experienced early readers and the illustrations are very detailed. The lesser goblins are funny looking but the king of goblins is the scary one – watch out for him! I enjoyed reading this story very much.