Reviews for Esther's Hanukkah Disaster

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Gorilla Esther tries to be a good friend for Hanukkah, but the gifts she chooses are all spectacular failures, from huge socks for a diminutive monkey pal to a jogging suit for a slow turtle. Esther feels terrible--until she throws a Hanukkah party at which everyone swaps presents. Vivid mixed-media illustrations filled with amusing details accompany this silly, engaging story.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #6
Esther, a purple gorilla, tries to be a good friend for Hanukkah, but the gifts she picks out are all spectacular failures, from huge socks for her diminutive monkey pal, Sarah, to a jogging suit for slow turtle Josephine. Esther feels terrible--until on the last night of Hanukkah she throws a party at which everyone swaps his or her earlier present for one that suits them perfectly. Vivid mixed-media illustrations filled with amusing details (see the shopping list on Esther's fridge) accompany this silly and engaging story. martha v. parravano Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #1
Esther the gorilla chooses a batch of inappropriate Hanukkah gifts in this misguided tale. Esther lives in an upscale jungle neighborhood complete with smartphones, a swanky mall and all the pristine flora of a well-kept jungle suburb. There, menorahs are lit and displayed in windows on the first night of the holiday. Esther makes her rounds with various gifts for her friends, which turn out to be a bit thoughtless. Sarah the monkey receives a pair of socks big enough for an elephant, Hal the hyena gets a jungle gym he cannot climb, Josephine the turtle finds a jogging suit ridiculous, and Oscar the elephant is insulted by the book 100 Jokes About Elephants. In contrast, Esther receives some wonderful gifts, which causes her to become disconcerted with her own poor choices. Though Sarah tells her that "[p]resents are not the most important part of Hanukkah," Esther decides to hold a party on the last night to resolve her blunders. After lighting candles, eating latkes and singing songs, everyone exchanges Esther's gifts so that each friend leaves with something suitable. Deeply hued paintings of anthropomorphic middle-class life are populated by well-dressed animal caricatures; they emphasize the unfortunate theme of a shopping-oriented holiday rather than the more significant features of a Hanukkah observance. Not a great choice for this year's holiday list. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 September #3

In this adorable and brightly illustrated Hanukkah story from Sutton (Don't Call Me Sidney) and Rowland (Little Nelly's Big Book), Esther the gorilla joyfully sets out to the Jungle Store to get everything she needs to give Hanukkah presents to her friends. She happily chooses the gifts, but as she hands them out to her monkey, elephant, hyena, turtle, and zebra pals, Esther realizes that her gifts may not have been as perfectly thought-out as she had hoped (such as the jogging suit she purchases for the turtle). Esther's innocent mistakes and her ingenious solution will prompt laughter. Ages 4-9. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 October

PreS-Gr 1--An unusual jungle locale distinguishes this story that focuses on holiday gift-giving. Esther, a purple gorilla, hurriedly shops for Hanukkah gifts, but in her rush she doesn't think things through. She buys huge socks for Sarah, her small monkey friend, and a jogging suit for Josephine, her turtle friend. By the time she gives Oscar the elephant a book called 100 Jokes About Elephants, it finally occurs to Esther that she has made some poor choices, while her friends' gifts for her have been thoughtful and appropriate. Although Sarah assures her that, "Presents are not the most important part of Hanukkah," Esther tries to rectify her mistakes by asking everyone to bring the presents she gave them to a party and swaps them so that everyone ends up with the perfect gift. Unfortunately, there is very little attention given to the holiday itself. Cartoon illustrations feature flat yet expressive characters set against backdrops that nicely depict the hazy lushness of the jungle, while interiors feature lots of amusing details like Esther's pile of banana cookbooks. Although not a necessary purchase, this book might be just the thing after seven nights of the usual Hanukkah fare.--Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

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