The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story is, hands-down, the funniest holiday book I’ve ever read. The fact that it also manages to tell the story of Hanukkah in a kid-friendly way and get across a message of tolerance makes it one of the best kids’ holiday books I’ve seen. And yes, it’s written by Lemony Snicket (whose real name is Daniel Handler), and, incidentally, published by McSweeney’s Books.
The book tells the story of a latke (potato pancake) that begins to scream when it’s dropped into a pan of hot oil. It runs down the street, encountering along the way several different kinds of Christmas decorations, each of which can talk (just as the latke can). The latke explains part of the Hanukkah story and traditions to each of the decorations, and then each decoration mistakes the latke for something to do with Christmas, which prompts the latke to scream again. It’s just as silly as it sounds, with simple but very amusing illustrations by Lisa Brown.
It’s suitable for kids from about age five on, I’d say, though it’s a little wordy for younger kids to read on their own. Adults will likely enjoy it at least as much as kids, and possibly more. It’s a great book for teaching kids about the differences between Christmas and Hanukkah, what the story and traditions of Hanukkah are, and that tolerance of other religions is important.
Oh, one quick word of warning: If you decide to read it aloud, make sure you know how to pronounce "Antiochus" and "hanukkiyah" beforehand. And, because someone’s bound to ask: I’m not really sure why the book is subtitled "A Christmas Story," though I suspect it’s partly because it does involve Christmas, partly because it’s funny (since it’s mostly a story about Hanukkah), and partly because that way it’s more likely to be put out on the table at bookstores with the more traditional Christmas kids’ books.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story is 43 pages long (many of them only with illustrations). It was written by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), with illustrations by Lisa Brown, and published by McSweeney’s Books. It lists for $11.00 US.