Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Oskar and Eight Blessings51kJJQr3hbL._SY399_BO1,204,203,200_Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Richard and Tanya Simon, Authors

Mark Siegel, Illustrator

Roaring Book Press, Fiction, Sep. 8, 2015

Pages: 40

Suitable for Ages: 4-9

Themes: Kindness, Refugees, Jews, Holocaust, Hanukkah, Blessings, New York City

Prologue: “Oskar’s mother and father believed in the power of blessings. So did Oskar…until the Night of Broken Glass. His parents put him on a ship to America. He had nothing but an address and a photo of a woman he didn’t know — “It’s your Aunt Esther.” — and his father’s last words to him: “Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.”

Book Opening lines: Oskar arrived in New York on the seventh day of Hanukkah. It was also Christmas Eve.

Book Jacket Synopsis: It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. Oskar, a refugee from the horrors of Nazi Europe, arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he’s never met. As he walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his aunt’s home uptown, he encounters the sights of the city at holiday time — and receives small acts of kindness from its people, each in its way welcoming him to the city and a life in the new world.

Why I like Oskar and the Eight Blessings:

Richard and Tanya Simon’s heartwarming story captures the best of New York and its residents who welcome Oskar to their city through their generous spirits and acts of kindness– a helping hand, a loaf of bread, a superman magazine, a snowball fight, a pair of mittens, and a friendly wink. It is the essence of what America is about, welcoming immigrants fleeing oppression or seeking a better life.

The story is realistic and believable for children. The characters are diverse. The plot is engaging. Oskar is overwhelmed by how small he feels in such a big city. He is tired and hungry. The sights and sounds are strange and confusing. Oskar is brave and remembers the wise fatherly advice he receives that wraps him in warmth during his 100-block journey to his aunt’s house.

This Hanukkah story, set in 1938, is timeless and should be shared with children no matter what tradition they celebrate. Compassion and kindness towards others is not limited to color, race or culture. This is a story of hope for humanity.

Mark Siegel’s illustrations are hauntingly beautiful. With spare text, the illustrations are expressive and really show the story. There is so much feeling captured in the characters eyes and smiles. The illustrations are uplifting.

Resources: An Author’s Note offers historical insight into the story, a glossary provides definitions of key words, and a map shows Oskar’s walk up Broadway in 1938.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s review of Oskar and the Eight Blessings, on Perfect Picture Book Friday, which will return January 8.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “Oskar and the Eight Blessings

  1. I just read an article about kids who are detained from Mexico and have to go through the U.S. court system alone after being separated from parents. Oskar makes me think of them. Can you imagine the bravery??

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    • I can’t imagine children being separated from their parents. I can see how you’d make a link between the Mexican children today who are detained and separated from their parents. They are brave, but it has to impact them.

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    • yes, same here! Maybe the same article? I am sure the kids have PTSD of some sort after coming all this way and then having to be deported. After being in detention centers with criminals. after braving hunger and treacherous conditions.

      As an imigrant from Holland legally myself and having PTSD myself just from the difficult time I had I can really feel for these kids. And compared to them I had is so easy. The only time I was separarted from my parents was to go to school two days after arrival and not knowing how to ask where the bathroom was.

      We need a better imigration policy. More humane and compassionate one.

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  2. Sounds like a wonderful book! So timely. As a former ESL teacher, immigrant stories have a special place in my heart. Adding it to my list. I think we gravitate towards many of the same kinds of books 🙂 Thanks for posting!

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    • I’m so glad you liked my suggestion! I was so excited when I found this new book and felt it very timely for children today. It really is about compassion and kindness. And yes, we do like similar books.

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  3. A very timely book. Children need to understand that sometimes others have to leave their home and come to a new country. I like the advice given by the father. We often have to look for the blessings.

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  4. Like you I hope it becomes a classic. I hope people read this instead of some of the rehotoric heard on TV. Children need to see the compassion in refugee and immigrant stories.

    Love this and am sharing it.

    Thanks so much for posting this. I love all your books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Clar. I’m so pleased you like this book. It is indeed a book about compassion and kindness for immigrants. I appreciated your comments to Nancy about your challenges when you immigrated as a child. You were lucky to have a supportive family.

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  5. Wow, this sounds like a winner. Usually I just pick up books from the library–at least for a first read–but this one I think I’m going to get for myself. Thanks for the introduction!

    Liked by 1 person

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