Oskar and the Eight Blessings

by Richard Simon

Other authorsMark Siegel (Illustrator.), T. R. Simon (Author.)
Book, 2015



Call number

E 736 SIM



New York, NY Roaring Brook Press, 2015


A young Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany arrives in New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah and receives small acts of kindness while exploring the city.

User reviews

LibraryThing member eduscapes
OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon is the heartwarming story of a new immigrant arriving in America in 1938.

Oskar has just arrived in New York City. It’s the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. As a new immigrant escaping the War, he’s trying to find his
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aunt’s house. Along the way he meets rich and poor, black and white, as well as anonymous and famous people. Acts of kindness from these individuals help him on his holiday journey to a new life.

The poignant story is filled with diverse characters that reflect the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of New York City. The interesting sequential art and subtle colors add interest to this beautifully illustrated picture book. An author’s note provides interesting insights into the story, a glossary defines a few key words, and a map shows Oskar’s path.

Librarians will enjoy the connections to both Hanukkah and Christmas along with the historical themes. This moving story will make a wonderful addition to the library’s holiday collection.

Published by Roaring Brook, an imprint of Macmillan on September 8, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Shortly after the events of Kristallnacht, a young German Jewish boy named Oskar is put on a ship to America by his parents, sent to live in safety with his Aunt Esther in New York City. "Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good," his father tells him, "You have to look for the blessings." Set
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on the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938 - a day which also happened to be Christmas Eve - this is the story of eight blessings that came into Oskar's life, in the form of eight people he met on his first day in a new city and a new world. Landing at the Battery in lower Manhattan, Oskar has to walk over one hundred blocks up Broadway to reach Aunt Esther's apartment. Along the way he encounters a kind old woman feeding birds, who gives him a loaf of bread; and newsstand man who gives him a Superman comic as a Christmas gift; and a jazz musician with whom he has his first "conversation" in America. A young snowball fighter whom he aids helps him in return, while a Christmas tree vendor helps him to his feet when he falls. Oskar even encounters Mrs. Roosevelt on his journey north! Finally though, he reaches 103rd Street, where his first meeting with Aunt Esther makes him feel truly at home...

A lovely book, one that pairs a deeply thoughtful and emotionally powerful story with beautiful artwork, Oskar and the Eight Blessings is one of my favorite picture-books of 2015, and has joined the ranks of my favorite holiday tales as well. Everything and everyone that Oskar encounters in his trek up Broadway is based on real events that occurred in 1938. Mrs. Roosevelt was visiting the city that Christmas, Superman had just appeared as a comic-book hero that year, and Count Basie had just given a concert in New York City the night before Christmas Eve. All of this gives the story an added authenticity, although even without that information, supplied in the author's afterword, the tale still feels genuine, offering a glimpse into a diverse New York City of the past. I was deeply appreciative of the message imparted through the story, about finding blessings through people of all backgrounds and faiths, and was moved to tears by the conclusion, in which Oskar finds Aunt Esther. The artwork by Mark Siegel perfectly matches the text, capturing in sepia tones the beauty and magic of the city at holiday time, and the emotional undercurrents of Oskar's journey. Truly a marvelous book, one with appeal as a New York story, an immigrant story, a Hanukkah story, a Christmas story, and most of all, a human story which emphasizes the bonds of community and humanity that are to be found amongst diverse peoples, even in the darkest of times.
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LibraryThing member TBE
A little boy arrives on a ship to New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah—which also happens to be Christmas Eve—in 1938. He’s survived Kristallnacht and been sent to find his aunt on 103rd Street and Broadway. His father has told him, “Even in bad times, people can be good. You have
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to look for the blessings.” So, Oskar begins trudging uptown from the Battery; along the way, he encounters eight acts of kindness. Through soft, warm-toned panels of illustration shot through with bursts of color, we accompany Oskar as he meets different helpers: A lady feeding pigeons near Trinity Church gives him a small loaf of bread. A newsstand guy in Union Square sees him admiring a Superman comic and lets him keep it, even though he has no money. A jazz musician near Carnegie Hall engages him in a duet of whistling as bright primary-colored notes swirl around them. (“It was Oskar’s first conversation in America,” the text notes.) Finally, he makes it to his aunt’s home, and she envelops him in a warm hug.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
Lovely story and pictures! Great map of Manhattan in NYC circa 1938 at the end of the book that shows Oskar’s journey and the events/people he encounters along the way. There is a touching and informative author’s note at the end too. Great story for Hanukkah, and as a gentle introduction to
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the Holocaust, and even for Christmas too, for historical fiction NYC, and a wonderful story about perseverance and kindnesses and finding the good there is to be found. I followed along with Oskar as he goes down Broadway to his destination and found the story entrancing. It was a perfect book for me to read at this time of year, and brought back some memories of NYC too. Also, we need a story like this right now. Highly recommended as a story about a refugee/immigrant!
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1626725330 / 9781626725331

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