Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: Getting Kvetchy at Hanukkah

I am what you might call a bibliophile. I love books, I love collecting them, I lament having to part with them (which I did with so many during my divorce and aliyah to Israel), and when I look at our bookshelves at home there are a lot of seforim, but those belong to my dear husband Mr. T. I'm not about to start hoarding books again just to have a fine balance between his and hers, but it is nice getting new books, reviewing books, and finding new authors to kvell over.

Recently Mr. T was in Jerusalem with a friend of his looking for benschers (the little books that Jews use before and after meals and on Shabbat that have songs and the prayers over food and drink) at M. Pomeranz Bookseller, a staple store owned by a couple that made aliyah to Israel more than 20 years ago. 

While there, Mr. T spotted a book: The KvetchiT: A Hanukkah Tale by Larry Butchins. He absolutely had to have it for me because I am, after all, the Kvetching Editor. Surprise surprise he brought it home and I sat reading it last night.

The KvetchiT: A Hanukkah Tale

The premise is cute, and it makes me wonder who comes up with these things (but in a good, not judgey way, of course). The story is narrated by a grandfather figure named Samuel who starts with the historic dilemma of the people at the rededication of the temple. The people are kvetching and kvetching that they don't have any oil, and although the common miracle we hear of is the oil lasting for eight nights, the miracle we don't hear of is the creation of the the KvetchiT -- a fuzzy, little three-eyed creature who feeds on kvetches. But once the kvetching over the oil stops, the KvetchiT is at a loss because he needs the kvetches to survive. He hides away in a cave and falls fast asleep.

The story zips ahead hundreds of years when a boy named Samuel finds him (does the name ring a bell?) and hears the story and agrees to help record the 20 greatest kvetches for the KvetchiT to live on. The story brings us back to the present where one of Samuel's grandchildren receives a unique gift of family tradition (and kvetching).

It definitely takes kvetching to a unique, new level of cuteness, and the illustrations are very traditional in the style of "religious" Jewish books, but not aggressively so (don't worry, you won't find the mom in a full-body coverup). I'm just bummed that the 20 greatest kvetches collected in the story are only available on cassette. Who has a cassette player?! Not this chick. I eagerly await their release in MP3 or CD format.

You can buy the book from Pomeranz for pennies, folks, and this would make a very cute gift for a child or a particularly kvetchy adult.

Do you have a favorite children's Chanukah book? A particularly excellent kvetch that you think the kvetch could live FOREVER on? With a wee one on the way, I'm eager to start collecting gobs of children's books!

Note: The book reviews I'm doing for Pomeranz are honest, as all of my product and book reviews are, but the books are being given to me at no cost for review.