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Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale
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Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Before Simon sails to America, he promises his family that he will get a job and send for them. Simon's mother knows he will need a miracle, so she reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah wherever he may be. Little does either of them know that Simon will spend the first night of Hanukkah on an ice floe after his ship sinks.The lone survivor out in the wide ocean, Simon lights t ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  229 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Mariah Roze
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Before Simon sails to America, he promises his family that he will get a job and send for them. Simon's mother knows he will need a miracle, so she reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah wherever he may be. Little does either of them know that Simon will spend the first night of Hanukkah on an ice floe after his ship sinks.The lone survivor out in the wide ocean, Simon lights the first candle, and it attracts a visitor: a polar bear. Does she eat him? No! She shares his latkes, enjoys his songs, goe ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When my siblings and I were young, my mother would read Kimmel's Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins every season, and we adored it (it had a lot to do with her funny voices, too). So I was delighted to see this book from the same author.

Simon and the Bear is a Hanukkah tale about a young boy who sets sail for America on a Titanic-esque ship that eventually hits an iceberg. Simon is stranded on the iceberg and encounters a bear, but it is through his generosity and unrelenting faith in the miracle
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy the Hanukkah tales, and this one is no exception. A little bit of history, adventure, kindness, and ultimately reward. Kimmel has yet to disappoint.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
I figured it was only appropriate to read at this time of year. And I liked it. Just the right mixture of faith and novelty.
Juliana Lee
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I am in awe of another masterpiece. The text and the art blend superbly together to create this story of hope, prayer, and miracles, in a fun and fanciful way.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great book, great story. Miracles happen, not just at Hanukkah.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Multicultural Picture Book Entry #1:
Simon and the Bear is perfect of a kindergarten or first grade audience. I would categorize it as a cross between Realistic and Fantasy Fiction. This is because there are some elements of the story that are not possible such as a polar bear that helps a human. At the same time, the idea of being a survivor of a ship wreck is possible.

This book reminded me of the Magic Treehouse: Tonight on the Titanic. The story of the sinking of the Titanic is
Kathryn Bergeron
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, jewish
Simon is sent to the United States to find work in order to send for his family. The ship he was sailing on struck an iceberg and began sinking. Simon gave up his seat in the lifeboat to a stranger. Simon then jumped on the iceberg as the ship sank. His mother had packed him a mini-menorah b/c it was Hanukkah. Simon lit it and played with the dreidel, asking for a miracle. A polar bear befriended him, kept him warm and brought him fish until a boat, seeing the light from his menorah, rescued him ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
PRECIOUS. I didn't think I would like it, but I loved it. The story is heartwarming, precious, and wonderful. I'm not Jewish so I didn't really know much about Hanukkah, but this story explained a tiny bit to me and I enjoyed it. The boy in the story has such a kind heart and his belief in miracles and sacrifice (read the story!) was well worth it. Beautiful book. Highly recommend.

The illustrations are so darn cute. I loved the polar bear so much! The boy as well!
Simon and the Bear is a such lovely, unique Hanukkah picture book. Kiddos will be gripped by the plot, which involves a young immigrant whose survival is aided by a polar bear. Instead of focusing entirely on the story of the Maccabees, this charmingly illustrated book centers miracles brought about by love, compassion, and bravery.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books, bears
“Wait strange man, I’ll go die on the sinking boat instead of you!” A bit over the top and heavy handed for my taste. Loved the artwork though - or maybe I just have a thing for polar bears and starry skies.
Abbie Gerig
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-lit
Genre: Traditional Literature
Grades: Pre K-2

I thought this was a cute book. I did not expect for it to include the sinking of the titanic in there, but the polar bear coming to the rescue of an innocent, selfless boy, was very touching.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lovely illustrations!
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fun, childrenslit, holiday
The story is a little far-fetched but the idea of miracles is wonderful.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit far-fetched for my child, but a touching story about miracles happening (not just at Hanukkah). Lovely illustrations.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
a Hanukkah tale of Simon demonstrating courage, faith and selflessness that should be shared with every child at time of Christmas or Hanukkah
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
enjoyed this more than i expected!
I really liked this one!
Nicole Baher
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-lit
This book starts out on what I assume to be the titanic. The boy is traveling to America away from his family in the midst of Hanukkah. One the titanic sinks he finds himself stranded on an iceberg after giving away his space in a life boat. He becomes friends with a polar bear. This book would be a great way to talk about a holiday that deserves more attention, Hanukkah! It also talks about friendship and the (presumably) Titanic! 2014. Picture Book.
Baby Bookworm
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Happy Holidays Week, Day 4: Hello, friends! Today’s book is Simon And The Bear, written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Matthew Trueman, a Hanukkah story about faith and hope.

Simon is just a boy, but he must leave home. He is immigrating to America to find work and send for his mother and siblings. Simon’s mother tearfully bids him farewell, but not before packing plenty of Hanukkah suppli
Amy Holland
A Hanukkah story that, somewhat bizarrely, combines celebrating Hanukkah with a Titanic-esque shipwreck. The story breaks from Titanic lore when Simon hops from the sinking ship and onto the villainous iceberg. He's able to survive there (with the help of a surprisingly docile polar bear) until a rescue boat arrives. It's a story about how miracles can happen to everyday people, which is a nice message...I just thought that the whole Titanic tie-in (even though it wasn't specifically named as su ...more
Debbie Tanner
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this very adventurous Hanukkah story. A boy named Simon is crossing the wide ocean (without his parents) to go to America. When the ship starts to sink, Simon gets into a lifeboat, but a man hands him a beautiful pocket watch with instructions to give it to his son in America. Simon thinks about how terrible it is to be without a father, so he lets the father go in his place. The ship sinks and Simon is cast adrift on a iceberg. Help comes in most surprising places bringing an opportunit ...more
Erika Knapp
Part of me liked this read and part of me wasn't so sure about it. I did not like the beginning of the book where the ship that Simon was on started to sink and he got off to let some random man on. In the middle of the book I was a bit iffy when Simon sort of formed a relationship with the bear and use his Hanukkah candles to wish for his miracles. However, at the end of the book, every event that happened tied together and I actually went back in my mind and enjoyed the story. My favorite part ...more
Simon ends up on a sinking ship on his way to America to make a fresh start for himself and his family. He kindly offers his seat in a lifeboat to an adult man with children to care for and finds himself wishing for Hanukkah miracles as he awaits rescue from the iceberg that doomed the ship.

He celebrates Hanukkah from this life or death situation in the sea and is blessed with 8 miracles like the Maccabeees the holiday honors.

Beautiful artwork in a predominately blue color palette. Text is a bit
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it

For these reasons those hardy souls who traveled, in conditions fit for neither humans or animals, across oceans to seek a better life have my utmost respect. To do so alone without the company of a single friend or family is truly commendable. Simon And The Bear: a Hanukkah Tale (Disney Hyperion, September 2, 2014) written by Eric A. Kimmel with illustrations by Matthew Trueman traces a journey filled with one marvel after another.

My full recommendation:
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Simon is on his way to America on a ship that strikes an iceberg. He manages to save himself by jumping on to the iceberg and making friends with a polar bear.

It is the season of Hannukah, and Simon has brought along all of the makings for the holiday, including his menorah. And it is the lighting of this menorah on the final evening of the holiday that leads to Simon's rescue.

A sweet story of generosity and faith.
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
If this was a true story I would rate it so much higher, even if parts were fictionalized. I like that it talks about Hanukkah Miracles and things can happened.

The pictures are very nice, and the story is cute but I really wanted it to be partly true. They use the name of a Real Major of New York City which makes me wonder but with a google search I haven't found even a shred of truth. It just feels like a titanic rewrite with a Hanukkah Twist.

Still a cute story!
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Simon sets off for America, his mother packs him food and also a menorah, candles, dreidel and latkes to celebrate Hanukkah along the way. Unfortunately, his ship hits an iceberg. Simon gives up his spot on the lifeboat to help someone else, and finds himself stranded on the iceberg. Miraculously, his Hanukkah candles draw in a friendly polar bear who helps take care of him. Packed with miracles, this is a great new Hanukkah story for your collection. Recommended for grades 2-4.
Mary Ann
Kimmel will enchant young readers with this tale of a very lucky young Jewish immigrant who’s miraculously saved after his ship strikes an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic. Is it a Hanukkah miracle that brings a friendly polar bear to Simon, or is it his caring, generous nature? Kimmel spins a wonderful tale that centers on the themes of miracles, faith and compassion.
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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

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