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The Trees of the Dancing Goats

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  568 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family's preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christ ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (first published 1996)
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A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C. MooreThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Favorite Christmas Books
92nd out of 796 books — 1,109 voters
Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia PolaccoPink and Say by Patricia PolaccoThunder Cake by Patricia PolaccoThe Keeping Quilt by Patricia PolaccoMr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco
Best of Patricia Polacco
11th out of 58 books — 48 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 22, 2008 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone but especially those with Jewish and Christian blended families/friends
One of those truly heartwarming stories that focuses on what the holidays, religion, and humanity are supposed to be about (but manages not to sound preachy!) When illness strikes their Christian neighbors in a small farming community, Trisha's Jewish family (the only ones escaping the fever) helps deliver Christmas to the other homes, decorating small fir trees with some of the wooden animal toys that Trisha's grandfather carved for their Hanukkah celebration. A beautiful tale of love and frien ...more
Lisa Vegan
Dec 16, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: family Hanukkah and Christmas reading
Recommended to Lisa by: Kathryn
After recently reading quite a few books by her, Patricia Polacco is now one of my favorite authors. Her picture books touch my heart in a way that no other children’s picture books have ever done. Her books are special gifts to readers of all ages.

This is a superb story about inter-faith friendship and being a good neighbor. The illustrations are wonderful. The title didn’t appeal to me but once I read the story I loved the title too.

I put this on my fiction shelf, but as with (almost) all of P
Nov 07, 2009 Sandi rated it it was amazing
I've never actually found a copy of this book; I should just order it from Amazon. It was published many years ago in the Lands End Christmas catalog and I've never forgotten it. It's a great story about being true neighbors. It's a beautifully written tale about a Jewish family that makes Christmas special for neighboring families who have been stricken by a flu epidemic. It made me cry.

Why is it that my favorite Christmas stories are the ones that make me cry?
The Trees of the Dancing Goats is one of the sweetest, most poignant Christmas/Hanukkah stories I have read to date. Focussing on harmony, peace, religious tolerance, and being good neighbours, the narrative manages to accomplish all this without being in any way preachy or moralising. And while there is definitely (and understandably) fear in Trisha's family that she might have been exposed to scarlet fever, there also is never any blame or intolerance cast at the Kremmels. Instead, Trisha, and ...more
Crystal Marcos
Dec 31, 2010 Crystal Marcos rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. I loved the message in this story to bring the holiday spirit to others in need regardless of whether or not they celebrate the holidays the same way as you. This is truly a heartwarming tale and I do appreciate that this book comes from Patricia Polacco’s real life events. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas I think you will enjoy this story.

I especially enjoyed feeling the closeness of this family and felt they were always this close even when it wasn’t the holidays
Dec 02, 2010 Dolly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Before moving to Virginia, we had only read one or maybe two books by Patricia Polacco. But I saw that our girls' Elementary school seemed to really be enthralled with this author. I later found out that they had won an anti-bullying contest and earned a mural painted on their library wall by Patricia Polacco. Intrigued, we started to read more and more of her stories and we have loved every one so far. Her illustrations are so full of emotion and her narratives are very touching, very raw, and ...more
Linda Lipko
Dec 27, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it it was amazing
I hoped to read all of Polacco's books in 2014, but alas fell short of that goal. Rich in detail and personal history, her books bring a rich meaning to family values.

As her beloved Babuska prepares for Hanukkah, her loving grandfather hand crafts lovely wooded animal toys. As her brother Ralph and she grow excited by the day, they relish the time when their school teacher mother will have two weeks to be with them on their grand parents Michigan farm.

On a cold winter night, when the snow is thi
Dec 18, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book based on Patricia Polacco's childhood. Her family is preparing to celebrate Hanukkah. Their neighbors are preparing for Christmas when they become very ill with scarlet fever. Polacco's family decorates and delivers trees and food to their neighbors...brightening everyone's holiday season. I love that it connects both celebrations...Hanukkah and Christmas. I love the kindness and generosity and neighborliness shown by all. I love that it, like many of Polacco's books is ...more
Hannah Harris
Title: The Tree of the Dancing Goats
Author: Patricia Polacco
Genre: Picture book
Theme(s): Hanukkah, Christmas, celebration, family, tolerance
Opening line/sentence:
"At our farm just outside Union City, Michigan, we didn't
celebrate the same holidays as most of our neighbors...but we shared
their delight and anticipation of them just the same."
Brief Book Summary:
During a brutal winter season, a young girl and her family learn the power of love and sharing as they brave through sickness and snow storm
Victoria Pickel
Apr 25, 2016 Victoria Pickel rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This picture book by Patricia Polacco tells a family story about having compassion for your friends and neighbors. The Jewish family lives in an area surrounded by Christian families who are both friends and neighbors. During the beginning of Hanukkah, some of the Christian families come down with scarlet fever. Trisha, the granddaughter of the Jewish family, realizes that the families are too sick to go cut down their own Christmas trees and decorate them for the holiday. So, Trisha suggests th ...more
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
Trisha's family celebrates the festival of lights while their neighbors celebrate Christmas. But when scarlet fever spreads amongst the neighbors, it is up to Trisha's family to do some cheering up.

I appreciate Trisha's perspective of the different celebrations and how regardless of beliefs/traditions, friendship trumps all. The illustrations are cozy.
A wonderfully inspiring story of true neighborly love for each other, as Polacco recalls a time in her life when she, along with her grandparents, celebrated the miracle of Hanukkah. Hearing that their Christian neighbors had come down with scarlet fever, the Polacco family scurried to make their Christmas joyous, as well. Bringing trees, food, and ornaments to the families brought not only joy to them, but to the family giving them as well.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats is full of heart-warmin
Nov 26, 2014 Becky rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco. She is sharing yet another holiday memory with young readers in this picture book. The book opens simply,
At our farm just outside Union City, Michigan, we didn't celebrate the same holidays as most of our neighbors...but we shared their delight and anticipation of them just the same.

The story focuses on one holiday season when the town is hit by an epidemic, scarlet fever, I believe. The heroine's family is not sick, but, mos
Nov 22, 2009 Connie rated it really liked it
This is a very sweet story of... holidays, I guess, and neighborliness, presumably based upon an event in the author's life.

She and her family were preparing for Hanukkah when they realized that all their neighbors were sick with scarlet fever... and the kids were basically going to have no Christmas at all because they and their families were too sick to celebrate. Nobody wants to think of their friends as giving up their holiday, so Patricia's family, who was luckily all well, prepared small C
Nov 16, 2014 Milo rated it really liked it
Recommended to Milo by: Lindsay
Our family friend Lindsay recommended the story, she really liked the illustrations. We checked it out at the library. Mama thought it was really neat how the story showed ways we can share ourselves with others. Also, she liked the message that we can respect others and find friendship beyond our own personal religious and political perspectives. We talked about ways that we can show tolerance and kindness to those who are different. It is a good story to show this.
Shahar Eden
This book is about a girl named Trisha and her family and how they are celebrating Hanukkah. Trisha went to her best friend Cherry’s house, but when she gets there all of Cherry’s family was sick and pale. When she got home her mother said they all had scarlet fever. She also said that the whole town had it. Then she got an idea. They would make trees in baskets to cheer the town up... bringing holiday cheer to everyone. A great story to tell about friendship.
Tina Smith
Jan 19, 2015 Tina Smith rated it really liked it
This is a very heart warming book about a Jewish family (Russian speaking grandparents in the home) in the country during a winter when all their neighbors were ill with scarlet fever. So sweet what this family does to help their Christian friends to experience the joy of Christmas by bringing them little decorated Christmas trees since the sick had been unable to chop their own that year.
Nov 20, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, jewish
This book has the most beautiful message! I LOVED how their neighbors were of all different faith, but they didn't just accept each other - they loved and celebrated each other. I admit I had tears in my eyes by the end.

The only reason I gave this four stars out of five was because I didn't care for the artwork. But that's completely a personal preference - You might love it!
Mar 15, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
I always love how Patricia Polacco puts so much of her culture and own life and background into her stories. The colors she uses for all of her illustrations are amazing and the detail she puts into the people, the furniture, and the objects on each page just make it that much more real and it pulls the reader right into the story. Her stories are also very heartwarming and teach lessons to the reader about doing the right thing and making others happy even if it means giving something of your o ...more
Mar 04, 2016 A.J. rated it it was amazing
This book would be excellent to read around Christmas time. The book talks about the holiday Hanikuh. The book teaches students about a different culture's tradition that they might not otherwise be exposed to. This book also shows what it means to help others in need and build a community.
Dec 06, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it
The title led me to pick up the book (what is so fascinating about dancing animals?) but the art made me check it out. Colorful pencil and marker drawings beautifully illustrate this lovely holiday tale about a Jewish family and their Christmas-celebrating neighbors.
Oct 27, 2014 Teri rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas, 2014
Nice addition to my children's Christmas book collection. I really loved the message of this book and I think it is a good choice whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah.
Dec 09, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
A lovely story about friendship and love. This is an amazing story that more people need to read and embrace in this day and age. I truly love Patricia Polacco!
Dec 04, 2014 LeeAnn rated it it was amazing
Polacco's Christmas books are a staple of the season in my elementary library. I think maybe this one is my favorite, but honestly, how could I possibly pick just one?
Dec 08, 2015 D. rated it it was amazing
Jonah and I read this on the first night of Hanukkah this year - how appropriate! A beautiful story. Jonah just likes me to do Russian accents
Sue Seligman
Oct 18, 2013 Sue Seligman rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story of friendship among families of different religions. Trisha is excited to be celebrating Hanukkah with her grandparents and mother, but around town, many of the families are stricken by a scarlet fever epidemic during the Christmas holidays. Trisha's grandparents think of a way to help these families during this most cherished family time. A wonderful story of sharing and friendship which shows that everyone should be able to live in peace and happiness despite their difference ...more
Jenny Young
Jul 06, 2011 Jenny Young rated it liked it
Grades 1-3



Illustrations look like they were created with paint.

Personal response:
The book was sweet with the story about the love between neighbors and family. It compared the Jewish holiday traditions and Christmas traditions. The story also brings in a little excitement and uncertainty after the main character visits her friend's family (who have scarlet fever). The story shows the value of true friendship and benefits of family.

Curricular or pr
Mrs. Tongate
Dec 30, 2014 Mrs. Tongate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious, christmas
A yearly must read. Eight days of Hanukkah, Babushka, menorah, latkes, shommas, miracle of true friendship, love of family, and the trees of the dancing goats.
This was a good combination of story and illustration. I always enjoy Polacco's illustrations when they are in the fol art tradition. This is a good story where the Jewish family mkes Christmas for the Protestant family who is ill with scarlet fever. the story also shows how rural farm families care for one another regardless of race, creed, or scoial economic status.

The two illustrations of the farm kitchen were especially appealing to me with the iron cooking stove, the ice tongs hanging above
Kate Hastings
Dec 20, 2013 Kate Hastings rated it really liked it
Shelves: winterstorytimes
Grades 3-5. Love Patricia Polacco's family stories. This one happened when she was a young girl and a scarlet fever epidemic struck around Christmas time. Her family is Jewish and they loved their neighbors, so they brought decorated trees and baskets of food to them to try to brighten their holiday. When the neighbors started feeling better, they returned the favor with a visit and a homemade menorah. Love the message of compassion, tolerance and community. Beautiful illustrations as usual.
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