Hershel & the Hanukkah...
Eric A. Kimmel
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Hershel & the Hanukkah Goblins

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  940 ratings  ·  97 reviews
What are the poor villagers to do? The holiday-hating, hill-dwelling hobgoblins are bound and determined to ruin yet another Hanukkah for them. Every year the beasties snuff out the menorah candles, destroy the dreidels, and pitch the potato latkes on the floor. But these wicked wet blankets never counted on someone as clever as Hershel of Ostropol showing up. Using his wi...more
Published October 1st 1999 by Bt Bound (first published 1989)
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I love Jewish folktales! This is a classic "outwitting the bad guys" story, illustrated by my favorite, Trina Schart Hyman. Love it!
L13_Allison Safran
“Isn’t tonight the first night of Hanukkah?” Hershel asked the villagers. “We don’t have Hanukkah, Hershel,” one of them answered sadly. “No Hanukkah? How can that be?”
“It’s because of the goblins. They haunt the old synagogue at the top of the hill. They hate Hanukkah. Whenever we try to light a menorah, the goblins blow out the candles. They break our dreidels. They throw our potato latkes on the floor. Those wicked goblins make our lives miserable all year long, but on Hanukkah it’s really...more
Dec 04, 2009 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an interesting folktale about Hanukkah, one that I'd never heard before. I was afraid that it would be a bit too scary for our girls, but they enjoyed the story and didn't seem to be affected by the slightly creepy illustrations of the scarier goblins. The first few were actually kind of cute. Overall, it's a fantastic story and an interesting way to tell about the Jewish holiday.
This is a neat Jewish folktale with neat illustrations. Hershal shows faith, courage, and cleverness in outwitting the goblins in this story. The goblin illustrations are fun, and make it an especially cute story to read between Halloween and Hanukkah. :)
I have always loved this one--maybe because of the scary goblins :-)
This is my very favorite Hanukkah book. This year I borrowed it from the library a bit late. I am also currently reading a collection of Light-themed stories from around the world for Winter Solstice, and I was pleased at how well this fits in. In The Return of the Light, many of the stories feature tricksters who steal the Light. In Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Hershel is a trickster who keeps the Light.

When Hershel of Ostropol arrives at a village on the first night of Hanukkah, no one is...more
I had never heard of this story before. I found out it was a 1990 Caldecott Honor book, so I picked up a copy. It was a bit too long for my son, but I read it to him anyways. According to this website (, "Eric Kimmel uses the Yiddish folk trickster character Hershel of Ostropol (Hershel Ostropolier) to tell his story."

In the book, Hershel happens upon a village who is not allowed to celebrate Hanukkah because of the goblins that infest the old synagogue...more
Courtney Canino
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Eric Kimmel, is one of my all time favorite children book. It is told in 3rd person point of view, and it has a lexile of 400 so it is for upper elementary aged students. The main characters of this book are Hershel, and the 8 Hanukkah goblins. The setting of this book is in a synagogue on top of a hill in a little Jewish town. The plot of this story is that Hershel is passing thought a Jewish town on Hanukkah eve and he asks the villagers why there aren't an...more
Stephanie Skolmoski
For a long time Hanukkah had not celebrated in a small village because of some very mean Goblins. Hershel of Ostropol neared the village hoping to find some fresh latkes and a warm place to sleep. As he entered the village, to his surprise there were no latkes, no singing, no lighted menorahs, NO Hanukkah merriment at all! The goblins had prevented any kind of traditional celebration of Hanukkah to take place at all. The village people were sad.

Hershel listens to the terrible tale of the goblin...more
In this holiday tale, Herschel discovers that goblins are haunting the synagogue which prevents the villagers from celebrating Hannukah. Herschel volunteers to help rid the synagogue of the haunts by outwitting them, and succeeds at tricking 8 goblins, but on the seventh night, the Goblin King arrives to wish Herschel a "Happy Hannukah." He is powerful and frightening but Herschel is able to trick him into lighting the shammes candle and... Well,you'll have to read what happens for yourself.
Oleg Kagan
Patrick from Jones Coffee Roasters at the ground-level of the library told me I must read this and so I have.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is another of Eric Kimmel's Jewish-themed books for preschool-1st graders, this one with the sharp realistic illustrations of Trina Schart Hyman (the author and illustrator of many a worthwhile book). The story is simple, Hershel of Ostropol, in passing a village, volunteers to rid the synagogue of goblins which are preventing the townspeople from celebra...more
The art and the strong story make this one of the best Hanukkah books both for kids not of the Jewish faith and for those who are. A village is terrorized by a group of goblin bullies, who have taken over the old synagogue on the hill and are preventing the people from celebrating Hanukkah. A traveler named Hershel comes along and offers to help. How he outwits the goblins, even in the face of his own fears, is an entertaining and clever tale. The Trina Schart Hyman art is magical. Be warned tho...more
Rebecca Abrams
GLE 3.2
Genre: Traditional Literature- Folktale

This is one of my favorite stories. It is about a Jewish man, Hershal, who travels to a town in which Goblins prevent the townspeople from celebrating Hanukkah. Hershal decides he will break the spell that the Goblins have put on the town that prevents them from celebrating. To do so he must spend the eight days of Hanukkah in the haunted old temple on the hill. Each night a different Goblin comes to stop Hershal from celebrating Hanukkah, each...more
Okay, so Frank spied this one on the library shelf, and declared that he wanted a monster book. Without looking at it, I said sure, and we checked out our books and left. When we got home, I realized it was a Hanukkah book, which I don't have a specific problem with, I was just afraid Frank would be utterly confused, being that he is four and not Jewish. It turned out to be okay. He might not have understood any of the significances of the candles, or other Jewish references, but the overall sto...more
Goblins keep a town from celebrating Hanukkah. Hershel comes to town, finding it dark and unwelcoming. He faces the dreadful goblins and the town is free.
I loved this story!!
Hershel of Ostropol is walking home on the first night of Hanukkah. He is hungry and tired but glad that in the next village there would be food for him, due to the holiday festivities. The villagers do not have a festival going on; they don’t celebrate Hanukkah, because of the goblins that haunt the synagogue. Hershel decides to help them get rid of the goblins. He has to spend eight nights in the synagogue and on the final night, the King of the Goblins has to light the final candle in order f...more
One of the BEST readalouds of all time. The illustrations are creepy, the story has excellent presence, and it has such teachability for folktales.
Hershel comes to a new town and is shocked that the citizens aren’t celebrating Hanukkah. He finds out it is because goblins won’t allow it. He takes on the challenge of lighting the Menorah every night and the last goblin must light it on the final night.

Interesting to watch the ways that Hershel gets around the goblins and the pictures are fantastic.

My students (4th, 5th, and 6th) enjoyed this one. The images might be a little frightening for little ones. I probably wouldn’t make this a bedti...more
Cara Stone
Hershel of Ostropol comes upon a village that does not celebrate Hanukkah because of some wicked goblins. Hershel offers to break the goblins’ powers by lighting the candles of the Menorah, night after night, facing one goblin after another. The final task is to get the King of the Goblins to light the candles, thereby breaking the spell and allowing the villagers to celebrate Hanukkah in peace. Engaging story telling and illustrations. Caldecott Honor book. Recommended. Themes: courage, faith,...more
The Hanukkah Goblins won't let the town celebrate Hanukkah so Hershel goes up the hill to defeat them. He uses his wits to outsmart the goblins in a variety of ways. My favorite has always been the goblin who likes pickles. Hershel offers him the jar and the greedy goblin tries to grab them all. Naturally he can't pull his closed fist out of the mouth of the jar and he is trapped by his own greed. The pictures are a nice addition to the story, detailed and a little grotesque as befits a goblin s...more
I love this book. My mom used to get it out of the library for her day care kids when I was in high school and I would always read it. I got it out of the library last year when my oldest son was old enough to enjoy picture books. He didn't love it last year, but this year he was full of questions when we read it. It doesn't tell the history of Hanukkah - get a different book for that - but it engages kids in a particular story of a traveler who visits a village and saves Hanukkah for everyone.
This book just didn't fly for me. I thought it was a little oxymoronish to have goblins and hanukkah together. I also felt like this story "borrowed" certain elements from other fairy tales. The drawings were interesting, I really like Trina Schart Hyman's style, but I really wasn't impressed with her rendition of goblins. I wouldn't recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Abbi Kraus
This book is full of great vocabulary and amazing illustrations. Hershel's village is huanted by evil goblins who will not let them celebrate Hanukkah. Hershel tricks the goblins in different ways and they end up leaving him alone. Hershel defeats the King of the Goblins and their power is lost. The village can celebrate Hanukkah once again. The book also has a small history about Hanukkah in the back. This would be a great book to read around the holidays to elementary kids.
Hershel, the main character was traveling one night and stops at a village where he expects to see a Hanukkah celebration, with a menorah, latkes, and such. He had no luck at all. The village was dark and silent. The villagers explain to Hershel that the synagogue in the village is haunted by goblins that hate Hanukkah, and do all they can to ruin it. Hershel and the villagers work together to save Hanukkah for the village. This is a fun book to teach children about Hanukkah.
One of my favorite Hanukkah stories when the kids were little. They loved it, too. It's funny and just scary enough for almost all children. Hershel uses his wits to fool the goblins. The funniest scene is when he plays dreidel with one of them, with the rules changed ever so slightly. Very much in the style of old Jewish folk tales. Recommended for anyone who loves a witty, spooky story.
This is a children's book that is well written and informative with wonderful illustrations. It was recommended by a young Jewish friend who said it was his favorite holiday book when he was a child. I can see why he liked it. I read it to my grand-daughters and they enjoyed it and loved the illustrations. They also learned something about the celebration of Hanukkah (as did I!).
Heather Camlot
Along with this book being a great Jewish folk tale, it is the first time I have ever seen any reference to the town in which my grandfather grew up. I was going to love the book no matter what. Fortunately, it's a well-told story, a visual delight and a morality tale without being obvious. My kids still talk about it and we haven't read it since Hanukkah eight months ago.
April Scheivelhud
This is a riveting tale of the village that couldn't celebrate Hannukah because of the goblins. One brave man goes to the top of a mountain to defeat the goblins and light all eight candles on the menorah by fooling them all! This was a very fun and interesting read. It also has some authentic Hannukah words incorporated into the story for children to learn about.
I marked this as scary-halloween for the scary part. There are goblins in it after all, but not really scary. Great book. Read it to 2 Catholic boys (I'm not Jewish either) but it was a great story to read with them and to explain a little bit about Jewish customs. Fun story concerning Hanukkah. Probably 1st grade- but possibly 2nd grade level.
Caitlin Day
This is a unique book about a man who saves a town from these goblins. The goblins keep trying to ruin Hanukkah by not allowing this small town to light the candles. But this man comes and outsmarts the goblins and saves the towns sacred holiday. This book does a great job of giving the history of Hanukkah in a fun, unique way for children.
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Eric A. Kimmel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1946. He attended PS 193, Andries Hudde Junior High School, and Midwood High School. Brooklyn College was across the street from his high school, so he didn’t want to go there. He headed west, to Easton, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Lafayette College in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Eric worked as an elementary school teache...more
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