Kar-Ben publishes children’s books about Judaism that aren’t carbon copies
All About Hanukkah. By Judyth Saypol Groner and Madeline Wikler. Illustrations by Kinny Kreiswirth. Kar-Ben Copies/Lerner, 32 pp., $5.95 Ages 4 and up.
By Janice Harayda
Thirty-two years ago, Judye Saypol and Madeline Wikler started Kar-Ben Copies to publish a children’s Passover haggadah they had created. That seder companion sold more than two million copies and became the firstof 150 or so titles for Jewish children — from board books to young adult novels — published by their company (named, they say, for their children Karen and Ben).
One of the most popular Kar-Ben titles is All About Hanukkah (part of an “All About Series” that on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Passover). Illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer, the first edition of All About Hanukkah had admirably clear writing, modest packaging and comprehensive back-of-the-book material – recipes for doughnuts and potato pancakes, dreidel-game variations, English and Hebrew texts and transliterations of Hanukkah blessings (with a musical score) and more.
I haven’t seen the second edition, which has new illustrations by Kinny Kreiswirth, shown above. But School Library Journal says: “Of particular interest is the presentation of the familiar ‘miracle’ of Hanukkah as a legend, distinctly separate from the historical account of the Jews’ rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This edition is accompanied by a read-along recording of the Hanukkah story and a selection of holiday blessings and songs.” The Association of Jewish Libraries recommended All About Hanukkah “not only for students beginning to learn about the holidays, but also for teachers and parents to use as guidelines for teaching children who have not yet been exposed to the holidays in depth.” Kar-Ben is giving a free All About Hanukkah cassette to anyone who buy another book on its Web site www.karben.com on a while-supplies-last basis.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.