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)