Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 12, 2020

Book Giveaway: THE NINTH NIGHT OF HANUKKAH by Erica S. Pearl

Erica S Perl has written a new picture book, THE NINTH NIGHT OF HANUKKAH, illustrated by Shahar Kober and published by Sterling Press. They have agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Erica and Shahar.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


A heartwarming picture book with a fresh twist on a Hanukkah celebration: celebrating a ninth night with new neighbors and friends!

It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing. So now they have no menorah, candles, dreidels, or, well, anything! Luckily, their neighbors are happy to help, offering thoughtful and often humorous stand-in items each night. And then, just as Hanukkah is about to end, Max and Rachel, inspired by the shamash (“helper”) candle, have a brilliant idea: they’re going to celebrate the Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a way to say thanks to everyone who’s helped them!

This book is not only a heartwarming and fun story, it’s also an invitation to join in a beautiful new Hanukkah tradition!


It was my two daughters who lit the flame of inspiration for the book. We were lighting Hanukkah candles and the girls started talking about the fact that the poor shamash (the “helper” candle that is used to light the other candles) works hard for eight nights without any fanfare or appreciation. This observation stayed with me for years, and I wondered why no one had done a book on it before. I loved the idea… but what should the story be?

I considered – and rejected – the idea of writing a story about candles. It had a certain appeal (after all, The Day the Crayons Quit showed us that sticks of wax have star potential), but I couldn’t get past a basic truth: Hanukkah candles are lit and incinerated each night. It’s one thing to “kill your darlings” metaphorically, but giving readers nightmares wasn’t my  objective.

Instead, from my earliest drafts, the story centered on a human family. But, in the original version, the family’s busy life prevents them from observing Hanukkah. Night after night of the holiday, intervening circumstances keep them from gathering as a family around the menorah. Then, finally, the day comes when are finally ready… and they realize they missed it. But, since they are determined to celebrate together, they invent: The Ninth Night of Hanukkah.

I liked this version, but something was missing. I was fortunate, though, because I had the opportunity to attend the Tent: Children’s Literature program at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Leonard Marcus, my workshop leader, and the other picture book authors in my workshop helped me to see what was working and what was not. During my stay, I also had an extended brainstorming session with two author friends, Tammar Stein and Sigal Samuel. I decided to put the family in a new apartment, so their inability to observe the holiday was less about being too busy and more about being isolated and overwhelmed. This gave their neighbors opportunities to step forward with gestures of support that were thoughtful and generous, if not precisely “right” for the holiday. Thus, when the family invents “Shamash Night,” it feels special and also authentic: their neighbors have been helping them, night after night, like the shamash, and the kids are excited to express their gratitude to those who have shared their light.

Having this book come out during the pandemic has helped me to share a message I really believe in: that we are surrounded by helpers, seen and unseen, who make our days brighter, and we should all devote a day (I suggest 12/18/20) to pay tribute to them! If you agree with me, please visit for a downloadable activity kit.

Because of my experience, I really encourage my fellow picture book writers to use their eyes and ears at every phase of their book’s journey. This Shamash Night I will be sure to thank my daughters for their wise observations in the first place, and my colleagues for their equally wise input during the seemingly endless revision phase. The Night Night of Hanukkah would not be the book it is without all of them!


Erica S. Perl is the author of books for young readers. Her most recent middle grade novel, All Three Stooges, won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s Literature and received a 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor (Silver Medal). In addition to novels, Erica writes picture books (including Chicken Butt! and Goatilocks and the Three Bears), early chapter books (the Arnold and Louise series), early readers (the Truth or Lie series) and plays (The Capybara Conspiracy: A Novel in Three Acts). She has been awarded fellowships by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), the Yiddish Book Center (TENT program), the PJ Library (Author Israel trip), and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Erica divides her time between writing and doing school visits.

In 2018, she did a residency at the American International School in Lusaka, Zambia. She also supports literary organizations–including First Book, An Open Book Foundation, PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in School Program, and Turning the Page–in her hometown of Washington, DC and beyond. Erica’s family includes her husband, kids, and four pets (three well-behaved, one not so much). Her favorite foods are popcorn and stale red licorice. Her website is and her social media presence is @ericaperl.


Shahar is an experienced freelance illustrator and art director. He mostly illustrate children books, and regularly contribute illustrations to newspapers and magazines. He also creates illustrations for animated films and commercial projects. He has worked as a creative director in the internet gaming industry, and as an art director for animation projects. His work has been published in France, Germany, The UK, South Korea, USA, Singapore, Australia, Russia, and other countries.

He is a member of the wonderful Time Tunnel Collective and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Illustration since 2005. Currently, he teaches illustration at The Neri Bloomfield School of Design (Wizo Haifa, Israel).

Shahar is represented in the UK by PlumPudding Illustration, in the USA by Shannon Associates, and in all German speaking countries by Art Act.

Erica, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It looks like a great Hanukkah book with a heartwarming message. I love the last page on how to create your own “Shamash Night.” Family’s will love this book. I can see it being a book that’s shared year after year.  So happy that we can get this book out to the winner in time for the Jewish Holiday.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I love the story! I’m really interested especially because i am writing some Jewish-themed picture books. Can’t wait to read!


  2. I love this book. It is in my stack of Hanukkah books for my grandkids. Thanks for sharing! I will be sharing this!


  3. This sounds like a great story! I appreciated reading about the suggestions and changes you made throughout the writing process. Congrats and best wishes! 🙂

    I will Tweet this and I follow by email.


  4. Congrats, Erica and Shahar! I RTed and I’m signed up for the emails.


  5. This sounds adorable! Congrats!!


  6. This sounds beautiful. It wouldn’t surprise me if your book is the start of a new ninth night tradition for some families. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  7. This looks like an entertaining and informative book for children of all faiths. I’d love to have a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared an image on Pinterest with a link too:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks for the chance to win, have a great day!!


  8. This looks like a sweet book. I will pass on the giveaway.


  9. What a wonderful idea for a book. Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational journey. I am also posting on Facebook.


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