Eric Kimmel’s The Chanukkah Guest is one of my favorite Chanukkah stories. 97 year old Bubba Brayna has been cooking her famous latkes. The smell is so tantalizing that it wakes a hibernating bear. The old woman has become a bit (fine, a lot) blind and deaf in her old age, and mistakes the bear for the rabbi. They play dreidel, the bear devours the latkes and in the end, walks off with the scarf intended as the rabbi’s Chanukah present. When her guests do arrive, Bubba Brayna learns the truth – that she has been entertaining a bear! The story is funny, the bear is adorably growly and my favorite moment has to be when she clutches the bear’s fur in an effort to remove his coat.
Great for: All elementary age students. Although this does tell a little about the religious significance of Chanukkah, the focus is on traditions and how people celebrate and for that reason should be acceptable for use in schools. I know my students have loved having it read aloud!
Sex, Nudity, Dating – At one point the bear drops his head in the old woman’s lap. When he goes to leave, he licks her face. She says “Oh rabbi! And at my age!” Some may be uncomfortable with the implications, but I can’t imagine children would read anything sexual into it.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – None.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – Unless having a bear in for latkes is scary, there is nothing to frighten little ones.