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Decadent Christmas Desserts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Dec 20, 2014

Christmas is a wonderful time of year where we gather together to laugh, love and enjoy all those who are special in our lives.  We do this in a variety of ways including decorating the tree, singing carols and participating in the gift of giving.  One of the most time-honored traditions associated with this season is feasting, where family and friends create delicious meals with one another in the kitchen.  Whether we are creating trays of roast beef, turkey, mash potatoes, carrot soufflé, gravy, cranberry stuffing or cinnamon acorn squash, we know that these special hours of preparation are some of the most entertaining moments of our celebrations.  That is why I look forward to baking the deserts, which are always designed to be thematic of the joy and magic of Christmas.  There is truly nothing like the smells of sugar, flour and eggs as it wafts from the oven to the four corners of the house.  Can you think of a more inviting welcome for your guests?  Here are a couple of my favorites to pass onto your desert plates this December. 


Mitten Shaped Sugar Cookies


                            photo credit:

These are so adorable and are really easy to make, even if you don’t have a mitten cookie cutter.  Start by mixing 3 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of baking soda.  Crack 1 egg and add to bowl.  Add 1 ¾ cup of melted butter, 1 ¾ cup of sugar and 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Mix thoroughly until the consistency reaches a firm doe.  Shape cookies with a rolling pin and either use a cookie cutter or butter knife to form the shape.  Place in a 375-degree oven for 8 minutes.  Once set to cool, spread different colored frosting over cookie for the mitten fabric and then use sprinkles to form a band around the wrist.  You’ll be surprised how beautiful, tasty and perfect for all holidays!


Santa Hat Cheesecake Squares

santa+hat+cheesecake11                                                photo credit:

Oh, these are just too cute and deliciously simple!  Particularly if you are looking for a last minute dessert to bring to holiday parties, this is your best bet.  If you don’t have time to make the cheesecake, your local bakery or grocery store is bound to carry them so don’t feel guilty about cutting corners.  Cut the sheet cake into small squares, about 3 x 3 inches.  Take strawberries and cut off the stems leaving a nice flat surface.  Place upside down with the wider surface planted on the cake to form a cone.  Then use either whip cream or white frosting to seal the surface of the strawberry and the edges of the 3 x 3 square.  Don’t forget to give a dot onto of the point to make the white ball of the hat. Voila!  You have an adorable sweet treat that Santa is sure to approve. 

suzie-1 Suzie Canale, The Beantown Tales

Suzie lives in Westwood, MA with her family. She is the Director of The Women's Locker Room Foundation.

Tags: Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, cooking, #EXFL

The Three Best Childrens Christmas Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 19, 2014

The Christmas season is embodied by a rich sense of love, comfort and joy which we gleefully show within our decorations, celebrations and feasts with one another.  Children in particular make this time of year especially wonderful, as they expel the enchanting spirit of “still believing”.  As parents, our own spirits are lifted because of our little one’s excitement and we relish in the fun of making every child’s wish come true.   Over time, many authors have captured these beloved aspects of Christmas by writing stories and illustrating images that not only teach the traditional customs of hanging up the lights, baking the cookies and singing the hymns to carols, but also bringing new and whimsical storylines to broaden our imaginations.  I have become a long time lover of Christmas books because of the bold coloring drawn throughout the illustrations and the beautiful magic and that is present within the pages.  My favorites are expansive, I will admit, but I’ve managed to narrow the list down to three.  Take a look and see if you can find any of your more favored holiday tales to that you read to your kids during this captivating time of year!

Twas the Night Before Christmas


Clement Clarke Moore is the distinguished poet who wrote the infamous story about the arrival of Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.  Written in 1822, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (also entitled “A Visit From Saint Nick”) was first published in the New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823 with no accreditation to Moore, a requested condition on his behalf for having the piece featured.  Becoming a huge success, the author did not reveal his ownership of the poem until it was included in a later collection of short stories in 1844.  Over 1500 years later, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” has become a time read tradition for many of us to read on Christmas Eve where we listen to the fine words describing a special visit from Santa Claus. 


How the Grinch Stole Christmas


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

These were the famous words penned by Dr. Seuss which his iconic character, The Grinch, mutters as he figures out the true meaning of Christmas.   First published in December of 1957 where the stories goal was to teach children about what is really important to celebrate, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has remained the highest requested book in bookstores and libraries during the Christmas season.  There is no denying the remarkable imagination that the author used when creating the land of Wooville, depicting a story of a mean and scary green creature who looms on the mountain tops plotting the ruination of Christmas for good.  Readers are taken through a wonderful adventure that focuses on friendship and togetherness while learning the invaluable lesson of the holiday spirit. 


Dream Snow


Eric Carle out does himself in this picture perfect wonderland created out of the idea of dreaming of snow.  Set during the wintery Christmas season, a man closely illustrated to resemble Santa Claus, drifts off to sleep where he imagines his farm covered in a blanket of snow.  When he is awakened, he sees that snowflakes are falling and he decides to go to his barn to decorate his Christmas tree.  The particularly beautiful and unique design of this story includes snowflakes placed on clear pages throughout the book, where when lifted, children can see five farm animals hidden.  Another lovely aspect is the button towards the end of the story that plays a sweet musical jingle when pushed. Eric Carle outdoes himself in this holiday classic where the images are bold and the storyline is splendidly simple Christmas tale.


Suzie lives in Westwood, Mass with her family. She has not only published four childrens books, but works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Suzie & Ryan Canale

Newbury Street, Boston 2014

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, Kids

Five Favorite Christmas Movies

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

There’s nothing like snowfall, a roaring fire and a great holiday flick to cozy up to during the Christmas season.  Being one of the largest topics played out on screen, holiday movies rank as some of the highest watched movies through November and December.  Why do you ask are they so popular?  Many of us need a little pick me up during this time of year because there is sometimes added pressure to complete tasks such as cooking, shopping, decorating and yes- family get-togethers which can also cause us to feel overwhelmed and anxious.  We need that burst of laughter or sentimental teardrop that is experienced while watching Christmas movies because they give us comfort and enhance a further enjoyment of the holiday.  I certainly have my favorites and the list is long!  Here is my top five with a small introduction about each to help select the perfect Christmas movie just right for you!


The Family Stone (2005)

This is definitely one movie that I look forward to watching every year because of the all-star cast and witty mix of comedic drama.   New Englanders will fall in love with the beautiful cinematography as well as the heart felt writing that pours throughout the story that includes disagreements between siblings and misled expectations for romantic partners.  Starring Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney and Craig T Nelson, a family reunion gets sticky when the eldest brother brings home his uptight fiancée to his wacky childhood home.  Trouble begins when the special guest just can’t seem to fit in which leads to couple swapping over the holiday weekend.  Sure to make you giggle and cry, The Family Stone is reflective of the common misunderstandings, mishaps and quirky relationships that most households possess during the celebration of the Christmas season.


Fred Claus (2007)

Funny, hilarious and a laugh out loud film, Fred Claus is both a comedic and sweet film about the pains of being the older brother to one of the most famous men in the world, Santa Claus!  Moviegoers will take a ride with Fred Claus to the North Pole where he must step up and save Christmas from extermination from the evil efficiency expert determined to end the holiday for good.   Starring Vince Vaughn, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Bates and Kevin Spacey, the hysterical combination of Vaughn’s dark humor (you’ll love him dancing to Elvis on top of tables) with the festive glee of Santa’s elves is brilliant and succeeds in presenting the lesson that family is the strongest unit of all.


National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)

It’s a classic and if you haven’t seen it, you have to!  Following along in the beloved ways of the Griswold’s, this time Clark (played by the infamous Chevy Chase) is determined to make it the best Christmas to date by digging deep into customary traditions and creating the zaniest craziest celebration ever.  Accompanied by a cast including Juliette Lewis, Beverly D’Angelo and Johnny Galecki, the Griswold’s welcome their extended family of grandparents, great aunts, uncles and cousins to experience over cooked turkeys, gas explosions, fire fried trees and even the kidnapping of Clark’s boss over a bogus Christmas bonus.  The laughs are endless in this classic Christmas comedy where you learn that family is everything to the Griswold’s.


Jingle All the Way (1996)

So you’ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger play action hero before but I promise you, the actor puts a whole new spin on the character.   In this fun loving comedy about a business man to busy to spend time with his family,  he makes the ultimate mistake by forgetting to buy the only present his son wants, a Turbo Man doll.  Taking you through a hilarious journey where he fights a mailman (played by Sinbad) through malls, radio stations and a holiday parade in the middle of the city, he finally figures out in the end that his son really just wanted to spend time with his hero, his dad. 


Deck The Halls (2006)

If you love lights, then you will love this flick about two neighbors in a heated competition for who can put on the best Christmas display on the block!  Led by Danny Devito, Mathew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, the jokes start reeling when a new family moves into town and decides to shake things up from the usual low-key traditional décor to a wild holiday spectacle.  Attempting to have their home seen from outer space, the tension grows when situations arise between the two families as electricity is stolen, blinding light shows start occurring in the middle of the night and egos are bruised.  This story is not only incredibly funny but sends a sweet message to viewers about the true meaning of Christmas.

 suzie_canale Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA 

Suzie is a huge movie buff. She will be sure to watch these movies and more with her husband.



Tags: Holiday Movies, Traditions, Christmas, Holiday Memories

Themes for Christmas Tree Decorating

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Christmas Tree Boston 

Tree decorating is one of the most time-honored traditions during the holiday season where families and friends gather together to prepare their most important centerpiece for the Christmas holiday.  Decked out in ribbons, pearls, heirloom ornaments, popcorn and stars, we see some of the most stunning and imaginative Yule tide creations which represent our personal interpretation of the beauty of Christmas.  The interesting part of this tradition is the fact that no tree is exactly alike and holds their specific theme within the décor of their branches.  Around the world, people intertwine their vision with baubles, sparkle and lights, swaying away from the customary palette of red, green and gold.  Contemporary decorators see no fault in purveying a new and unique embellishment for their seasonal balsams and why shouldn’t they?  Don’t be afraid to mix up the motif this year by adding a modern flair of imagination!  Here are a few suggestions that may help to get your creative juices flowing.



Hot pink, orange and lime green.  Yes, it might sound a bit risqué but I assure you this color combination packs a “wow” factor punch particularly when hosting a Christmas soiree.    The element of bright and cheery is reflected when using these pigmentations together and can be easily accomplished by using simple accents throughout the tree.  Hot pink roses, baby tangerines and limes make affordable yet glamorous ornaments that are guaranteed to stun and awe onlookers.  If you feel that this style might be perfect for your holiday party but a little too much for everyday appearance, you need only to substitute the hot pink pieces for shades of cream, blue or silver which pairs well with the remaining tones. 

 woodland christmas tree theme

Although ornaments are traditionally crafts that represent the holiday season such as icicles, tinsel and bows, there’s no reason why you can’t utilize objects that you love to become display items as well.  For example, a woman collected fine pieces of doll set china and wondered if she could use her beloved treasures to decorate her Christmas tree.  She soon figured out that many of the items could be hung with string or easily tucked carefully and securely within the pine needles.  Another family who loved animals and had several dogs and cats decided that they would represent this special adoration by placing their pet’s paws in a molding clay, creating a print and then poking a whole at the top to be strung.  There was even a boy who enjoyed folding origami and thought that the clever projects he made would be a wonderful theme for his parent’s tree.  Whatever you come up with, it will be great but just remember one thing, don’t forget to use a lot of light, my husband insists on over 1000.

suzie_canale_westwoodSuzie Canale lives in Westwood, MA with her 2 sons and husband. She decorates her tree on December 11th, her son Lance's birthday. What a great tradition.

Tags: Traditions, Christmas Trees, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays

How To Create Christmas Snow Globes - Kids Crafts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Dec 10, 2014


                                                                                               photo credit; The Santa Clause 3

The Christmas season is filled with gift buying, cookie baking, Yule decorating, card sending and most importantly, enjoying the time that we share with one another.  As parents, we try to involve our children with as many holiday themed activities as possible, hoping that they will relish in the seasonal cheer and maybe someday, pass these memories onto to their own families.  Don’t get bogged down with an elongated to-do list that seems never ending during the month of December.  Instead, take a little time out to use your hands with your children to make adorable crafts that will not only develop stronger skills in both the right and left sides of the brain, but help build a stronger foundation between each other.  Projects are numerous and can be created easily and inexpensively requiring only one necessity, your imagination!  If you wouldn’t call yourself especially gifted in this department, there is no need to worry.  Here is an idea that uses few supplies, uncomplicated to construct and most critically FUN for everyone, a Christmas snow globe!  Follow these steps and you will be well on your way towards a success Christmas craft.

Snow globes are very popular within the arts this time of year because let’s face it- it’s cold outside!  These spherical wonders are a fantastic option because you simply need colored paper, glue and a few white cotton balls for the materials.  Begin by cutting out a circle and a base as shown below.


  GlobeCircle_copy                                    snow_globe_craft

 Light blue construction paper works best to represent the glass ball but other colors that will work are white and black.  The base can either be darker in shade or leave it up to your kid’s to choose their favorite color to put their own signature mark on the project.  Glue the circle to the top of the base hiding a small portion of the bottom arc behind the base as shown below.  




Once you have this attached, cut out seasonal pictures of your choice and glue them onto the globe, making a lovely winter landscape that can include (but are not mutually exclusive to) snowmen, Christmas trees, wreathes, Santa Claus or any imagery that represents something special for you and your family.  Once the scene has been attached, glue tiny white pom pom balls to represent snowfall.  If you can’t find these to use, take a whole puncher and make your own using white paper.  The shape is the same and can be mounted just as simply. 

suzie_canale Suzie Canale lives in Westwood, MA. An author of four childen's books, Suzie also works part time at the Westwood Public Library and raises her two boys who loves the holidays.

Tags: Childrens Book, Holiday Decor, Christmas, Holiday Memories

Top Things To Do During the Christmas Season in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Dec 09, 2014

Boston is one of the best places to visit during the Christmas season because there are loads of fun things to do with your friends and families!  Whether you are interested in lights, physical activity or the arts, visitors will not be disappointed with the array of events that this city provides for the yuletide season.  Don’t be intimidated by thoughts of exorbitant expenses for high ticket prices or admittance fees, I assure you there is plenty to do without having to break the bank.  This is the time of year to enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and you shouldn’t have to spend huge amounts of money to partake in the wonderful Christmas activity that Bean Town provides.  Here are some of my favorite things that put me in the holiday spirit while visiting Boston.


                    photo credit:

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is a time-honored tradition that Bostonians have enjoyed for decades.   The dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, the Land of Sweets and the running of the mice are exciting to watch as ballet dancers float across the stage and captivating music is played composed by the infamous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  Costumes and stage design are also magnificent aspects of this production and are sure to inspire the joy of Christmas to whomever takes a seat in the theater.  Tickets are on sale at the Boston Opera House and shows run from December 3rd to December 31st with ticket prices ranging from the low one hundreds to above.  Perfect for children, you wont be disappointed in the amazing cast, music and directing of The Boston Nutcracker. 


        photo credit:

Frog Pond Skating

Get your coats, scarves and mittens on and high tale it over to the Frog Pond located in the Boston Common of downtown Boston.  Skaters come from all over to take their turn gliding across the pristine ice while watching the stunning Boston skyline scrawl across the city.  Amenities include the Frog Pond Café where you can grab yourself a snack or a cup of hot chocolate to warm your bones.  You can even book the rink for holiday parties or schedule lessons for the kids!  The pond is open daily at 10 am only costs $5.00 for those over 58 inches tall and is absolutely FREE for under.  


                                          photo credit:

Faneuil Hall Shopping

If you are a shopper at heart, you won't want to miss the deals going on in the infamous Faneuil Hall Marketplacein Boston.  Packed with every boutique imaginable, you’ll be bedazzled by the Christmas decorations hanging from every ceiling as well as the enchanting carols being played both in person and over the loud speakers.  Be sure to check out the largest Christmas tree in Boston along with international phenomenon Blink light show.   If you would like to attend these events, visit their website for more information.

suzie_canale_westwoodSuzie & Rick Canale, Westwood, MA 2014

Suzie's husband Rick managed the Exotic Flowers in Faneuil Marketplace from 2001 to 2011.



Tags: Traditions, Boston, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, #EXFL

New Christmas Songs to Put the Jingle in Your Jangle

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Dec 09, 2014

Christmas music is one of the foremost magical aspects during the yuletide season.  Hymns from long ago allow us to join together in unison whether we are caroling from door to door or listening while sitting in front of an open fire.  Some say that kids today don’t engage enough in this time honored tradition and have raised concern about the future of Christmas music for generations to come.  Will “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” be a tune of the past?  Not according to these special contemporary artists who have vowed to keep the spirit of the season going for our youth and generate a whole new appreciation for music composed especially for this holiday.  Here is a list of some hot and modern melodies that top artists are promoting this Christmas season.  


“Do They Know Its Christmas” is a classic hymn sang originally by Band Aid in the 1980’s where cause centered towards raising awareness about poverty in Ethiopia.  Due to the recent Ebola breakout, a new band of stars are determined to raise awareness once again, this time by changing the lyrics to reflect the devastating effects that this disease inflicts.  A few of the singers for the project include Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Seal and One Direction, which are sure to succeed in producing a wonderful and memorable rendition of the Christmas song.


Country music lovers are going to flip when they see that an incredible compilation of their favorite southern artists have joined together to release, “Christmas in Nashville”.  Including some of our favorites such as “Santa Baby”, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Blue Christmas”, you will hear the voices of Connie Britton, Will Chase, Aubrey Peeples and many more top chart stars.  Grab your CD today, I promise listeners will be in awe of the beautiful carols performed with a soothing country flair!


If you are looking for something from a few of our favorite pop artists, try Kristen Chenoweth’s new release, “ A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas” or “Christmas (Please Baby Come Home)” by Melissa Etheridge who puts an edgy rock appeal to classics like “O Night Divine”.    Sixpense None the richer is also on board with a couple of great Christmas melodies in their CD, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.   Sarah Brightman, Faith Hill and the infamous Aretha Franklin can be added to your list of digital downloads this holiday, too!

  suzie_canale_westwood-1Suzie Canale, Westwood, Massachusetts 2014

Suzie can be found enjoying music in her car, at her home in Westwood, at the gym and while dancing with her husband,

Tags: Music, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, #EXFL

Christmas Display Windows for Florists

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Dec 07, 2014


It’s the time of the year when we see the most spectacular window displays in storefronts and why do you ask?  The reason lies within the themes that emulate from the Christmas season, specifically lights, beauty and warmth.  Whether you are designing the window for a clothing boutique or home improvement outlet, you can bet that that the possibilities are endless when selecting items and props for an eye-catching presentation.  So what if you’re a florist and at your wits end as to how to attract more customers, potential buyers and passerby’s into stepping into your store this Christmas?  Don’t be worried that the same snowman holding a rose that you’ve put up for the last ten years will be your only solution.  Put Frosty away for good this Christmas and try out some these templates proven to increase walk-in percentages in any flower store


Clean, Clean, Clean

The first thing that any window designer absolutely must do is snag a bottle of Windex and start scrubbing.  It will not do to have a musty, stained or cloudy glass appearance, the window front must be immaculate!  Any dirty residue will immediately distract from your presentation and confuse onlookers from what you are really trying to show them.  Flower arranging, in general, is about orchestrating a beautiful compilation with the use of single objects being put together.  We don’t fill vases that are filthy so why fill a window that lacks the same appeal?  Many proprietors have employees who are in need of extra hours during this season, and this is a perfect job to fulfill them!


Original if Possible

Flower shops often employee creative thinkers, people who are capable of thinking outside of the box, so it is detrimental to utilize their ability of imagination when making an effective window front.  Ask your designers to take three minutes to brainstorm their ideas on a piece of paper, where you can afterwards sift through and choose themes that they have come up with that are perfect for your shop.   Try to stay away from the traditional and done-to-death looks such as stuffed Mr. and Mrs. Claus dolls or giant plastic snowflakes.  It’s boring.  Use materials that you already have in your inventory to come up with fresh accessories such as stringing dried flowers to wrap around Christmas Trees, a recreated gingerbread house made from flowers or design a winter scene made up of entirely blooms and plants.  Another tip is to be vigilant of staying away from the conservative red, white and green color palette.  Mix and match to build a spectacular presentation that is sure to allure anyone who walks past your window. 

suzie_canaleSuzie & Ryan Canale, Fall 2014 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Suzie worked in wholesale floral for many years in Boston. She has received training in visual merchandising from Europe's master floral designers.

Tags: Retail, Holiday Decor, Christmas, Holiday Memories

How to Write a Letter to Santa

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Dec 04, 2014


                               photo credit:


Dear Santa Claus…

It’s the way that every child starts their sacred letter to Old Saint Nick, writing down with vigor all of the toys that they wish for most on Christmas.  Dolls, Legos, bicycles, board games, books-if a child can dream about it, you can bet Santa Claus has seen it scrolled within his letters at one time or another.  Although the task seems simple to most, some little ones have trouble and are unsure of exactly how to go about this important undertaking.  One strategy is to grab a pencil and a piece of paper and begin your itemization of all the things that you want to see underneath the Christmas tree.  Clearly, this is the easiest way to go about it, but what if we could put another spin on the art of wish list writing?  Wouldn’t Santa be pleasantly surprised to open an envelope to find a unique approach to asking him for toys?  If you think your ready to “Wow” Mr. Claus with a fresh letter full of spirit and cheer, take a look at these ideas to spark things up!


Write Your Own Christmas Story

Instead of sending the big guy a list of your wants and desires, why not create your own personalized Christmas story?  Come up with a list of characters (maybe your family and friends) and a plot to tell your own yuletide tale!  Don’t worry that Santa might not know what to get you because within your narrative, you can make the toys that you want part of the story.  For example:


“Sam thought he had overslept on the most important morning of the year, Christmas of course, but as soon as he jumped out of bed, a brand new skateboard had been left for him tied with a bright red bow and a card attached reading,

“Merry Christmas, Love Santa Claus”.


Not only will you definitely give Santa a chuckle, you’ll brush up on your writing skills as well as have a fun time doing it! 


Make Your Own Collage

Yes, words get straight to the point but an artistic hand can do wonders when designing a letter to Santa.  Give him something to put a twinkle in his eye by cutting and pasting your wish list into a masterpiece full of images called a collage! This type of creative play is a lot of fun plus a great way to fine-tune motor skills and imaginative thinking.  To start, gather up magazines, newspaper inserts and printable downloads from your computer and carefully select those items that you would really love for Christmas.  Then, carefully cut out the images and paste onto a sheet of paper.  If possible, use the sturdiest available such as construction paper.  If you really want to make something special, you can paste the pictures to form a story thematic after the holiday season.  Once the collage has been produced, allow a good hour for the glue to dry before folding into an envelope for the mail.


Santa’s Mailing Address

101 St. Nicholas Drive

North Pole, AK 99705


suzie_and_lance_canale Suzie & Lance Canale, Westwood, MA November 2014

Suzie can be found helping her two boys write letters to Santa or in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Tags: Traditions, Childrens Book, Holiday Memories, Kids, #EXFL

Three Great Children's Books Celebrating Hanukkah

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Dec 02, 2014

There are thousands of children’s books that are perfect for teaching the course, traditions and cuisine experienced during the holidays.  Authors have been writing for decades about wreathes hung at Christmas time, hearts drawn for Valentine’s Day and eggs decorated during Easter in the hopes to inspire excitement and a deeper knowledge for the reasons why we gather together for these festivities.  One holiday genre that possesses a sensational list of books is “The Festival of Lights” also known as “Hanukah”.  Many of the stories include extraordinary images and written phrases that explore popular customs such as lighting menorahs, spinning dreidels, making potato latkes and most importantly, celebrating love with friends and family.   Bookstores hold a wide array of authors who have accomplished this within their tales and here are three that I’ve found to be fantastic reads to honor the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

 hanukkah childrens book

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes

The author, Linda Glaser, pens this witty children’s book about an entrapment plan of a girl named Rachel when she refuses to accept an elderly neighbor’s refusal to attend her family’s Hanukkah feast.   Drawn with the intricate illustrating techniques of Nancy Cote, the plot thickens when Rachel’s mother runs out of potatoes for the holiday latkes, which gives life to a brilliant idea.  The tenacious girl decides to visit the woman living next store and asks to borrow the vegetables for the mea hoping to coax the old woman by involving her in the cooking of the meal.   Although the neighbor agrees to give the ingredient to Rachel, the girl must use her cleverness to convince her that she must celebrate “The Holiday of Lights” with her entire family.   I loved this book because not only do you get a glimpse at the wonderful tradition of preparing potato latkes but you also are able to experience a smart and hilarious relationship between two unlikely but soon beloved neighbors. 


The Trees of the Dancing Goats

Patricia Polacco has done it again within the heartwarming book, “The Trees of the Dancing Goats” which explains the selflessness of a young girl named Tricia who helps her neighbors in need during the holiday season.  When the scarlet fever plagues the village, Tricia and her family are unable to enjoy their festivities knowing that everyone else cannot partake in their Christmas celebrations.  Plagued with scarlet fever and unable to decorate their houses for Christmas, Tricia and her brother sacrifice their Hanukkah presents to decorate the homes of those families which have fallen sick.  Since Tricia and her family are the only people not affected by the illness, they take it upon themselves to help those in need, thereby showing the true meaning of community.


Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah

This is a sweet story geared towards young readers that captivates the beauty of color seen during the eight days of Hanukkah.  Written by Sylvia Rouss, this is a remarkable tale about a spider that watches Josh Shapiro during a special eight day span where he lights the candles of the menorah and receives beautifully colored dreidels.  Sad because he does not have a toy to spin, Sammy’s mother makes sure that he gets his own spun, webbed rainbow to celebrate Hanukah.  Illustrated by Katherine Kahn, the author has provided a wonderful story explaining “The Festival of Lights” and has also written a multitude of other similar tales in celebration of Jewish holidays including “Sammy the Spider’s First Shabbat” and “Sammy the Spider’s First Passover”.

suzie-1 Suzie Canale, Big Red Chair, Chestnut Hill Mall

Suzie works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library and has also written four children's books through her Beantown Tales. 


Tags: Jewish Holidays, Childrens Book, Holiday Memories, Kids, #EXFL, hanukkah

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