Cover image for Simon and the bear : a Hanukkah tale
Simon and the bear : a Hanukkah tale
Kimmel, Eric A., author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Disney / Hyperion Books, [2014]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Stranded on an iceberg on his way to America, Simon remembers his mother's parting words and lights the first candle on his menorah while praying for a miracle, which soon arrives in the form of a friendly polar bear.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Childrens Area-Holiday
Audubon Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
Clarence Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
Clearfield Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
Crane Branch Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
Grand Island Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Holiday
Kenmore Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
North Park Branch Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Holiday
Orchard Park Library J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

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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. 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, goes fishing for him, and even keeps him warm at night. This fanciful Hanukkah tale celebrates eight miracles.

Author Notes

Eric Kimmel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1946. He received a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Lafayette College. He also has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois.

He was an elementary school teacher and college professor before becoming a full-time writer. He has published over fifty titles, many of which have won state and national awards. His titles "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" won the Caldecott Honor Medal, "The Chanukkah Guest" and "Gershon's Monster" won the Sydney Taylor Picture Book Award and "Anansi and the Talking Melon" won the Utah Children's Choice Award.

Kimmel travels nationally and internationally visiting schools and talking about his books and telling stories.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

After his ocean liner strikes an iceberg, young immigrant Simon relinquishes his seat on a lifeboat to a father. Realizing that his own survival will require a miracle, he lands on the iceberg and celebrates the Festival of Lights with the candles and latkes in his bag. Later, he shares his dwindling provisions with a polar bear, who keeps him warm through several nights, and then with sailors, who notice Simon's flickering lights and rescue him. Arriving in New York, he learns that the man whose life he saved is the mayor who gratefully arranges a job for Simon (tending polar bears at Central Park Zoo) and passage to America for Simon's family. Kimmel's folkloric tale brims with seasonal details, including the foods and customs of Hanukkah. Trueman's mixed-media artwork features deep blues and blacks, suited to winter on the north Atlantic, and his cartoon-style characters display an earnest, slightly ethereal look, befitting a story of miracles.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

For Simon, a young Jewish immigrant headed for America, life is one miracle after another-nine, in fact, which correspond to the total number of candles on a fully lit menorah. The mounting improbabilities-which include Simon surviving on an iceberg after a Titanic-like sinking, thanks to the help of a latke-loving polar bear that feeds him sushi-style salmon ("A little salty. Like lox," Simon notes)-are handled with matter-of-fact aplomb by Kimmel (Hanukkah Bear). But Trueman's (One Beetle Too Many) gorgeous scenes of arctic nights are the book's high point, rendered in deep blues, silvery white, and the golden glow of candles. An author's note about the holiday concludes this engaging and visually arresting book. Ages 3-5. Author's agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Michèle Manasse, New Work Illustration. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-Combining elements of the classic immigrant tale with magical realism and a dash of Titanic, this story follows young Simon as he leaves his family behind in the old country, sailing on a ship to America. Packed in his knapsack are a menorah, candles, a dreidel, and latkes to celebrate Hanukkah during the crossing. When the ship strikes an iceberg on the first night of the holiday, fatherless Simon gives up his seat in a lifeboat to a man whose little boy is waiting for him in New York. As the ship sinks, Simon jumps onto the iceberg where he lights his menorah and hopes for a miracle, "just as one happened for the Maccabees long ago." Suddenly a polar bear appears out of the darkness and pulls itself onto the iceberg, eating the latkes and other food Simon offers her. Over the next several days, it catches fish for Simon and cuddles up with him at night to keep him warm. On the last night of Hanukkah, Simon lights the last of his candles, shares his last latke with the bear, and hopes for one more miracle, which arrives in the form of a rescue boat, sent from a passing ship that has seen his fully lit menorah. The icy dark night is masterfully depicted in a watercolor palette of rich blues punctured by brilliant stars and the warm glow of the candles. The iceberg is given substance and depth by the use of what appears to be folded paper that has been crumpled and painted, while the hefty figure of the polar bear is worked in gouache softened with pastel. With its fine storyteller's language and themes of selflessness and miracles, this is a book that is sure to bring pleasure and meaning to Hanukkah celebrations. An author's note on the history of the holiday is included.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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