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Hanukkah Bear

Hanukkah Bear

Written by Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Holiday House, 2013
Picture Book, 32 pages
Ages 4–8

Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-823-42855-7 
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-823-43169-4

Awards & Good Things

  • Winner of the National Jewish Book Award
  • PJ Library Selection
  • A Bank Street College Best Book
  • Russian Translation
  • Amazon Bestseller

Book Description

Bubba Brayna can’t see or hear well. When a bear arrives at her house on Hanukkah night, she thinks he is her rabbi! They light the menorah, play dreidel, and eat up all the delicious latkes. Before he leaves, Bubba Brayna gives him a scarf she made herself. Then the real rabbi shows up!

Look Inside

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The acrylic paintings by Wohnoutka have a warm, mirthful quality. Petite Bubba Brayna is rosy and welcoming toward the large honey brown bear, who is more endearing than menacing. Large textured brushstrokes make the snow on Bubba Brayna’s roof look like frosting, while inside her cozy house everything has a golden glow. Successful on every level, this holiday favorite is sure to be popular with anyone who appreciates a little humor with their holidays.

School Library Journal (starred review)

“Wohnoutka’s cartoon-style acrylic paintings of the endearing bear and patient Bubba, in warm golds and browns, enhance the story’s humor. An author’s note with more information about Hanukkah customs and a recipe for latkes are included.”

Jewish Book World (starred review)

“Wohnoutka’s colorful acrylic paintings are infused with light, perfect for bringing Kimmel’s story of the Jewish Festival of Lights to life.”

International Reading Association (IRA)

“The stylized hungry bear and the smiling Bubba fill the single and double pages with fun. Acrylic paints produce warmth to set the humble interior aglow.”

Children’s Literature

“Kimmel revises a story previously published in Cricket magazine and as a 1990 picture book, The Hanukkah Guest, with cheerful new acrylic illustrations from Wohnoutka. Bubba’s remarkable patience as she puts up with the none-too-scary bear’s gruffness will amuse readers as they prepare for their own Hanukkah celebrations.

Publishers Weekly

“Wohnoutka’s cartoon-style acrylics exude comfort and make effective use of warm browns and golds. Concluding with a recipe for latkes and a note about Hanukkah customs, this makes a good addition to the holiday shelf.


“A well-used trope of misidentification allows a village elder to innocently open her home to a possible predator with humorous, even endearing results. This newly illustrated version is a softer rendition, with acrylic paints and curved lines in tints of yellow, brown and green for warm, earthy atmosphere. The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The silliness of the folkloric setup plays out well in the vivacious acrylic illustrations with nary a rough edge in sight.”

The Horn Book

A charming book.

Jewish Book Council