Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins


Title: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins Author: Eric Kimmel Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman
Publisher: New York; Holiday House

Genre: Fantasy Level: Primary Number of pages: 30 Pub. Date: 1989

Summary (Use your own words; 3-4 sentences; setting, characters, plot, conflict, resolution): Hershel of Ostropol comes across a small village on the first night of Hanukkah, but not a single Hanukkah candle is lit. He finds out the town is tormented by goblins that hate Hanukkah. The town’s people explain that the only way that they would be able to celebrate Hanukkah is if someone went to the old synagogue and lit the Hanukkah candles each night. Then on the eighth night the Goblin King would have to light the candles himself. Hershel agrees to challenge the goblins and proceeds to the synagogue to spend the eight nights of Hanukkah. Each night Hershel tricks the goblins that come into letting him light the candles. Finally Hershel tricks the Goblin King and Hanukkah is saved.

Critique (Include features of genre featured in class.) This book is a modern fantasy book. It has elements of high fantasy. Hershel acts as the hero in this story, risking himself to save a small village he happens upon. While the town is made up and there are Goblins in the story many of the Hanukkah elements are factual which gives the story believability. The setting of the small town is made up but could represent a large number of small towns across Europe. Together these elements work to create a strong fantasy story.


This book does what a good fantasy book is supposed to it fuels the imagination.  The goblins in the story are the perfect villain for a children’s story ominous but easily tricked so that it is less scary. The drawings in this book are amazing which is what won it a Caldecott Honor in 1990. I particularly like the part of the book with the Goblin King. By never showing the Goblin King totally Ms. Hyman leaves it up to the reader’s imagination as to what the King really looks like.  Following is my interpretation to the Goblin King.


I used crayons for my interpretation because I believe that it matched the original illustrations best.


After: Students will have their own artistic interpretation of the Goblin King. Paper, crayons, markers, colored pencil, scissors and glue will be provided so that they can use any materials they want.

A Read Aloud:


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