Oskar and the Eight Blessings

By: Tanya Simon

Richard Simon

Illustrator: Mark Siegel

New York City, 1938: On the seventh night of Hanukkah—also Christmas Eve—Oskar, a refugee from Nazi Germany, experiences proof of his father’s last words to him: “even in bad times, people can be good.” Author’s note. Glossary. “In Oskar’s Footsteps” map of 1938 Manhattan. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9781596439498

JLG Release: Nov 2015


Sensitive Areas: Realities of war
Topics: Kindness , Refugees , Jews , Jewish Holocaust (1939-1945) , Hanukkah , New York City

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Awards & Honors

Booklist 2015 Top 10 Books for Youth, Religion and Spirituality
Booklist Best Picture Books of 2015
2015 National Jewish Book Award Winner, Children’s Literature
2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, K–2
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Fiction Picture Books
Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Holidays

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Book List*, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
On the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938, which also happens to be Christmas Eve, a young refugee boy named Oskar arrives in New York City from the horrors of Nazi Europe with only a photograph and an address to find an aunt he has never meet. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his aunt’s hom
[STARRED REVIEW]
On the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938, which also happens to be Christmas Eve, a young refugee boy named Oskar arrives in New York City from the horrors of Nazi Europe with only a photograph and an address to find an aunt he has never meet. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his aunt’s home in the north end of the city, he passes and encounters the city’s many holiday sights and residents. Each person he meets offers Oskar a small act of kindness, such as the newsstand man who gives Oskar a Superman comic book. Each encounter is a reference to an event which took place in the city in 1938. A constant for Oskar is remembering his father’s last words, “Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.” The majority of illustrations are presented in variously sized panels that move the story along, with inserts of long panel illustrations that serve as a glimpse of Oskar’s experiences. VERDICT A wonderful, heartwarming picture book for any library at any time of year.—Diane Olivo-Posner Los Angeles Public Library

Horn Book

In 1938, the last night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, and for a young Jewish refugee in Manhattan, both holidays provided blessings. Following Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents had put him on a boat to New York with just the name and address of his aunt; his walk from the harbor takes him more than a hundred blocks up Broadway. Along In 1938, the last night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, and for a young Jewish refugee in Manhattan, both holidays provided blessings. Following Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents had put him on a boat to New York with just the name and address of his aunt; his walk from the harbor takes him more than a hundred blocks up Broadway. Along the way he encounters friendly and helpful strangers, Macy’s Christmas windows, and Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt (whose historical presence in the city that night is confirmed in an author’s note). The changing light of the day and developing snow are beautifully conveyed in the illustrations, an engaging blend of large and small panels paced to echo the starts and stops and blessings of Oskar’s (successful) journey. An appended map of Manhattan details the route and visually reprises the gifts Oskar receives along the way. roger sutton

Junior Library Guild

  • A touching narrative and atmospheric artwork combine for an ultimately hopeful holiday story.
  • Oskar, who has traveled on his own from Europe after the Night of Broken Glass, arrives at the southern tip of Manhattan with nothing but a photograph and address of a relative he doesn’t know. During his long, cold walk uptown, Os
    • A touching narrative and atmospheric artwork combine for an ultimately hopeful holiday story.
    • Oskar, who has traveled on his own from Europe after the Night of Broken Glass, arrives at the southern tip of Manhattan with nothing but a photograph and address of a relative he doesn’t know. During his long, cold walk uptown, Oskar encounters kind and generous strangers (one merchant gives him a Superman comic—“Keep it, kid. Merry Christmas.”—and a boy gives Oskar his mittens). Readers will be affected by how the brief but meaningful interactions affirm Oskar’s father’s belief in the goodness of people, and by Aunt Esther and Oskar’s eventual meeting.
    • Mark Siegel’s illustrations offer a strong sense of place and time period. Done mostly in graphic novel-esque panels and boxes, the images also serve as snapshots of a sort, documenting Oskar’s journey. In many scenes, Oskar is pictured in wide-eyed wonder, taking in new sounds and sights.
    • The back matter enriches the story. In his author’s note, Richard Simon adds context and detail about Kristallnacht and the family story that provided inspiration for the book; and he explains Count Basie’s and Eleanor Roosevelt’s cameos. The closing spread, an illustrated map that tracks Oskar’s trek from Battery Park to 103rd Street, shows details of Manhattan as well as the locations where each of Oskar’s blessings occurred.
    • Though the story takes place more than seventy-five years ago, it is relevant to the experience of refugees today, who, like Oskar, face unspeakable hardship before relocating to other nations.

Book Details

ISBN

9781596439498

First Release

November 2015

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

11" x 8 1/2"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

Level 2.9; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 2.3; Points: 3;

Lexile

Level AD570L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Roaring Brook

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Realities of war

Topics

Kindness, Refugees, Jews, Jewish Holocaust (1939-1945), Hanukkah, New York City,

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Cover Art

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