Hanukkah Harvie vs Santa Claus

from Library Tales Publishing, illustrated by Michelle Simpson

Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so Harvie thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too—Santa Claus! Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all for themselves: friendship.

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*Feature in World Religion News

Finally! A holiday tale that is affecting without heaping on the schmaltz. Which holiday heavyweight will outdo the other in bringing  joy vey to the world? If you don’t find yourself snickering at Slater’s whimsical world of Hanukkopters and other well-oiled contraptions, you are definitely in the menorah-ty!

Dale E. Basye, author of the Circles of Heck Series

“A new holiday tradition deserves a new holiday classic, and David Michael Slater has delivered just that.”

David Lubar, Author of Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.

“A new book about Chrismukkah could bring about world peace, but only if you do your part…It’s not only for Chrismukkah households: this funny, fast-paced visual delight about the rival gifters duking it out—spoiler alert—until finally they realize they share the same generous-spirited goals (imagine that!) is for anybody who wishes we could all just agree to disagree about the whole God thing, respect each other’s choices and get along.”

Judith Basya, Literary Editor of Heeb Magazine

“What do you do when your family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah? You celebrate Chrismukkah! David Michael Slater has written a delightful story capturing the joy of the holidays with humor and sensitivity. A must read for families of all faiths!”

Penny Warner, Author of the award-winning series, The Code Busters

“This is the most Hanukkool book I’ve read this year! David Michael Slater is one funny mensch—and Hanukkah Harvie is my favorite new holiday hero.”

Bart King, Author of The Big Book of Boy Stuff

“Well, really, folks, when you get down to it, are Christmas and Hannukah really all that different? They are both celebrations steeped in the spirit of love and friendship, and who’s to say Loveship can’t be found in the combined celebration of both. Harvie and Santa are onto something big! They just kind of make you want to hug everyone.”

Graham Salisbury, Author of the bestselling Calvin Coconut Series and Under the Blood Red Sun

“Great fun! I always wondered who brought the Hanukkah gifts.”

Eric Kimmel, Author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

“In celebration of blended families and modern-day cultural, religious and ethnic fusions, David Michael Slater’s Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus has a unique, and refreshingly “real” take on one of the holiday’s biggest icons, Santa Claus. By bringing a new player to the game, Hanukkah Harvie, gift giving becomes a cutthroat competition of who can “gift” better to win over those families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. And the silliness bar is raised with each encounter. Funny. Unexpected. Sprinkled with laugh-out-loud lines, this book reads like a “well-oiled machine,” and will no doubt be a new holiday, Christmakkah favorite.” 

Heidi Ayarbe, author of Freeze Frame

“One thing I always expect from a David Michael Slater book is an outrageously imaginative story. In Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus he delivers just that. But he also captures the struggle between competing characters and competing traditions in a way that warms the heart and enlivens the mind. You cannot read this story without wondering what would change in the world if everyone from different traditions could find the same kind of friendship as what develops between Hanukkah Harvie and Santa Claus. We can only hope so. I want every child to have a chance to read this story and be touched by its magic.”

 Roy M Carlisle, Advisory Board Member and Editorial Consultant for Relish Media, an imprint of Little Pickle Press

“A book involving the true message of the holidays for families of mixed faiths in today’s world has been long overdue, and we hope that “The World’s First Chrismukkah Classic” will become a household name. This book captures the essence of finding joy and being with those you love around the holidays regardless of belief.”

Danny Foley & Sarah Robinson of Watch for Rocks, Creators of “The Chrismukkah Song”

“At long last: the dueling holidays reconcile as Hanukkah Harvie and Santa Claus discover Chrismukkah. This is the tradition-defining story that every blended family will want to read as they sit beside the Chrismukkah bush amidst an avalanche of presents.

Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer

The Boy & the Book

from Charlesbridge Publishing, illustrated by Bob Kolar

In this wordless story, a library book tries desperately to evade the destructive clutches of a little boy. What drives the Boy, however, is enthusiasm and love—not malice—and the Book eventually responds in kind, accepting his rough but worthy fate.

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Released in Korea! 



Colorado Libraries: Shortlisted for 2016 CLEL Picture Book Award

Kirkus *Review

A nearly wordless picture book presents the “I can read” moment. A small boy with a determined, mischievous expression enters a library in the company of his mother. The look on the boy’s face, perfectly rendered by Kolar (as are all the expressions), alarms the library books, and they run for their lives. The boy captures a blue-bound book and begins manhandling it as he would any toy, in the process ripping and creasing the pages. The other books look on, horrified. The boy’s mother (who, unsettlingly, seems to care not a whit that the boy has mistreated a book) comes to get him. He tosses the book to the floor as he leaves. The other books lovingly glue and tape the battered book back together. A new day, and—horrors!—the boy returns. Again, the books scatter. But then the blue-bound book sees the boy’s forlorn expression and suddenly understands. The book leaps from its safe perch to the boy, the boy opens the book, and it is here that the four words of text make their powerful statement—”Once upon a time.” For the boy has learned to read, and now books are cherished and library manners learned. Presented as a grand adventure, the moment when a child first learns to read is powerfully rendered in this well-made story.

Publishers Weekly
Slater’s (The Bored Book) wordless story seems headed toward a lesson about mistreating library books, but the lesson turns out to be one of surprising compassion. The book abuser is a young library visitor with a mop of black hair who grabs a blue book while the others flee (all of the books have expressive faces and sticklike appendages). A question mark above the boy’s head as he opens the book signals his non-reader status. Instead, he holds it upside down, rips it, tosses it, and folds the pages, accompanied by anguished looks from the book itself. On a return visit, the book’s efforts to avoid the boy are futile, and he strikes again. But then something wonderful happens: the boy learns to read, and he and the book are reconciled. Kolar’s (Stomp, Stomp!) digitally made figures are crisp and flat, and the expressions on the books’ faces do their comic work effectively. Library champions don’t usually tolerate the ill-treatment of books, but sometimes, Slater implies, what looks like bad behavior is just boundless eagerness.

Midwest Book Review
The Boy & the Book is an original tale told entirely with brightly colored pictures. A young boy loves to read, but he doesn’t understand how to handle books – he wantonly tosses library books around and tears their pages. Poor, innocent books! The anthropomorphic books of the library help the boy’s literary victim recover with tape and care, but what will they do when the boy comes back? Will the boy ever learn not to be so rough with books? A simple tale about learning to respect the things one loves, The Boy & the Book is highly recommended.

BAY VIEWS (The Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California: July 2015 vol. 24 no. 10)


Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California

A wordless romp shows the havoc that ensues when a pre-reader has marvelous fun playing with a book with no clue of its intended use or any regard for the book’s safety. As the boy leaves a library, one blue book is left with its pages in tatters. Its companion picture books swoop in with tape and glue to put it back together again. When the boy returns some time later, the books react with terror, scrambling to hide and get out of his reach. But the boy’s tears stoke the courage of the now-battered blue picture book, who cautiously decides to rejoin him and discovers a marvelous change—the boy can now read! Young readers will enjoy the panicky reaction of the books, the various bits of Scotch tape and scribbling that show up on the actual book’s covers, as well as in the story, and pick up a gentle lesson on book care along the way. Computer-rendered illustrations are predominantly blue, red, and orange and show plenty of action and a convincing range of expressions on the faces of both humans and books.

Elizabeth Overmyer, Independent

Dictionaries Out of Order

Dictionaries Out of Order defies simple description. Its stories, which intersect at Portland’s “City of Books,” range from the silly to the sublime, veering expertly from philosophy to farce. At its heart, the book is a love letter to the awesome and mysterious power of words. As comical as it is profound, this unique and unforgettable collection confirms that David Michael Slater is one of the most versatile authors writing today.


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Amazon review
A highly entertaining and thought-provoking collection of short stories. Through each of the vastly different characters and scenarios he creates, Slater explores and plays with questions about the role of words and language in our reality. By turns the stories are funny, painful, surrealistic, always creative and a pleasure to read. For those familiar with his popular young adult adventure stories (Sacred Books series), Dictionaries Out of Order brings Slater’s excellent writing, fascination with language, and talent for creating a good story to an adult audience.

Amazon review
David Michael Slater’s Dictionaries Out of Order is a trip. It is a mystery. It is a tour. It is a flight around the world from Powell’s Books to Mikhail Bulkagov’s backyard bathroom at midnight; from John Wesley’s Georgia to Three Rivers Stadium–with stops in Warsaw and the Vatican–and with visits by Comenius and by the author himself– that writer of picture books and historical psychological reflections, Mr. David Michael Slater….”Dictionaries” is a dark, hypnotic peek into the unbreakable entanglement of the Human and her prime tool–Language.

Amazon review
The great thing about short story compilations like Dictionaries Out of Order is their ability to take the reader on various satisfying journeys and outstanding single-serve adventures. They’re perfect for popping open and drinking down in both small doses or all at once. Oftentimes, jumping from one story to the next in one sitting is like riding the metaphorical roller coaster so many writers aim to create in their larger works, and when an author manages to pull off those emotional peaks and valleys multiple times over the course of a compilation it makes for a pretty great ride.

What’s even better is when overarching themes and subtle subtext is liberally spread throughout the entire collection, and the many love letters author David Michael Slater has compiled here share a common curiosity and awe in the written word, a hodgepodge of symbolisms and moralities from Greek mythology, and various acts of creation. It’s obvious Slater feels the power of prose exists and influences on multiple levels, and he tries to share his insights and observations through what ends up being an entertaining, if not educational, collection. It would be interesting to know if he set out to intermingle these adventures and anecdotes with the common theme always in the background, or if Dictionaries Out of Order was a coincidental collaboration between shorts he’d written over the years.

Aside from the thread that worked its way through the various pieces, I really enjoyed the introduction story that set up the compilation’s contents in a uniquely ambiguous way. It’s fun to think about reading a book so amazing it’s driven sane men to insanity, and Slater set up his collection with a simple-yet-imaginative framing device that lent itself to some pretty cool speculation. Fans of the written word and all the magic behind the strange symbols and swirls we assign to different emotions and aspirations, this book was written for you.

The Ring Bear

the-ring-bear-400Illustrated by S.G. Brooks

Westley and his mom are the perfect pair of pirates. That is, until she tells him she’s going to marry Stan. When she asks Westley to be the ring bearer at the wedding, he hears “Ring Bear.” So…there’s only one thing to do: become a REAL bear and wreck everything!

NOW AVAILABLE as an interactive app/game for tablets/phones from TINY TAP (requires Tiny Tap app)




THE RING BEAR has been chosen as an HONOR BOOK by the SSLI – The Society of School Librarians International! It has also been selected for inclusion in the nationwide Accelerated Reader program.

Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game)
Column: Uncle Orson Reviews Everything Herbie, Already, Alot, Alright, Peck, and Ring Bear June 26, 2005 First appeared in print in The [ http://www.rhinotimes.com ] Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC. Even though my youngest is really too old for picture books, I still can’t resist them. Recently I picked up The Ring Bear, written by David Michael Slater and illustrated by S.G. Brooks. In the story, a young boy plays pirates with his mother, wearing eyepatches and going under the noms de guerre “Westley the Wicked” and “Mom the Mean.” Mom’s friend Stan doesn’t play — he won’t wear the eyepatch. He enjoys watching their imaginative life, but it’s something they share between themselves. Then Stan and Mom decide to get married, and when they ask Westley to be the ring bearer, he misunderstands and thinks of himself as the Ring Bear. As a bear, he can show his anger at Stan’s intrusion, and he is fully prepared to devour the ring rather than carry it up to Mom and Stan. This is a sweet, charming, funny, tender book. The art is warm and witty, the writing understated and, precisely because it isn’t maudlin, it brought a tear to my eye. It’s not a “problem” story, to be trotted out when a kid’s mother is about to remarry. It’s a story any kid could enjoy, treating the remarriage issue as the simple fact of family life that it so commonly is.

Blended Families (Podcast)
Click on the link to hear a Podcast interview about THE RING BEAR!

The Ring Bear was featured on JustOneMoreBook.com podcast (April 6, 2007). Podcasters Mark Blevis and Andrea Ross call The Ring Bear “an incredibly fun and endearing little story.” For a link to the audio visit http://www.justonemorebook.com/?s=ring+bear. A transcript of the show is available at [ http://flashlightpress.com/ringbear.html ]http://flashlightpress.com/ringbear.html.

Marya Jansen-Gruber
Sensitively created, this picture book does a masterful job in showing us how confused a small child can become when his or her home life is changed in any way. Confronted with the idea of his mother’s marriage to Stan, Westley wonders if his mother still wants him and also if Stan wants him. The shifts that Westley makes between his imaginary personalities and his real self not only show us how powerful the imagination can be in a child’s life but it also emphasises Westley’s uncertainty. The boy takes refuge in an imaginary world when the real world becomes too bewildering and worrying for him. After a while he isn’t quite sure which world he belongs in. The illustrations in this unique picture book are full of vibrant and glowing colour and the illustrator’s portrayal of the sad little boy is both touching and affectionate.

Family Times Inc.com
A charming and tender tale…[that] opens the door for parents and children to speak with each other about their own evolving families.

The Ring Bear was glowingly reviewed on HealthyBooks.org.uk. “Excellent on the inner turmoil suffered by children when a life-changing event comes along. The illustrations are irresistible, with Westley changing from boy to bear and unsure himself as to how he feels.”

Midwest Book Review
The Ring Bear: A Rascally Wedding Adventure is a children’s picturebook that deals with a serious theme. A young boy is used to living with just his mother; he doesn’t want a stepfather, yet she is getting married and anxious to show him that he will always be a beloved member of the new blended family. He is to be the ring bearer, but he hears it as “ring bear” and decides to dress up as a bear to scare everyone away! The captivating illustrations by S. G. Brooks tell of the struggle to bridge rifts of fear and mistrust with enduring love, in this [an] original, warmhearted, and highly recommended story by David Michael Slater.

Karen D. Adolphson, Editor Your Stepfamily Magazine
…Addresses common stepfamily issues… and offers an imaginative and sensitive solution. It was a pleasure reading this – the text and the illustrations are both lively, and work well together – as a successful illustrated book should!

Mary Quattlebaum, Washington Parent
…With humor and compassion, author David Michael Slater gets at the heart of the child’s worry and anger.

Fun & Games

The 1980’s: it’s the time of Dungeons & Dragons, banana clips, and Atari. Jonathan Schwartz is growing up in a family like no other. His sisters, Nadia, the dark genius, and Olivia, the gorgeous tease and temptress, manipulate Jon and his friends for their own entertainment. And his Holocaust survivor grandparents? Their coping techniques are beyond embarrassing. A disastrous visit to Jon’s class by his grandmother unhinges his famous father, setting off a chain of events that threatens to send the dysfunctional Schwartz clan up in flames once and for all. Fun & Games is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of faith, family secrets, betrayal, and loss—but it’s also a tale of friendship, love, and side-splitting shenanigans.


“David Michael Slater’s 1980s coming-of-age story fuses intense family dysfunction with literary intelligence. Mr. Slater throws all kinds of crazy against the wall—and not only does it stick, it works brilliantly…Fans of David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, and Augusten Burroughs will crown David Michael Slater their new king.” –THE NEW YORK  JOURNAL OF BOOKS

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New York Journal of Books
Getting through high school is difficult enough—especially when you’re a Dungeons and Dragons geek like Jonathan Schwartz. Add in two sisters who lean toward the cruel and sadistic, a famous father who shuns his Judaism, a Holocaust-survivor grandmother who tells incredibly offensive Jewish jokes, and his father’s zealot “inkwhores” showing up at the house begging to be impregnated. Poor Jonathan doesn’t have a chance. After a calamitous meeting with the family rabbi, Jonathan’s father runs off to Israel to live with an ultra-orthodox sect under the guise of writing a new book. But the family only sees it as abandonment. Shortly thereafter, the Schwartz family train begins to derail. It’s a wild and sordid ride to its final conclusion. David Michael Slater’s 1980s coming-of-age story fuses intense family dysfunction with literary intelligence.Fun and Games is like a 1980s Jewish version of The Wonder Years, except with more confusion and heightened teenage awkwardness.

Though seemingly a tale rife with the depravity and debauchery of hormonal youth, Fun and Games author Slater deftly balances out the storyline with a deep, dark emotional flair that disguises the heartbreaking truth hovering just below the surface.

Fun and Games is a multifaceted story full of wit, wonder, and blind corners—just like real life—perfectly reflecting the average American family in its many relatable moments followed by sighs of relief. In this very commendable effort, David Michael Slater throws all kinds of crazy against the wall, and not only does it stick—it works brilliantly. Fans of David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, and Augusten Burroughs will crown David Michael Slater their new king.

Publishers Weekly
Jon is a normal teenager about to start college, but in Slater’s novel he finds that he can’t move forward in life until he comes to terms with his family’s past. While his grandmother is a Holocaust survivor, his father vehemently avoids religion. Jon’s two older sisters are a handful: Nadia is a manipulator, with her fingers in everything the family does, and Olivia is toeing the line between virgin and professional soft-porn star. When an incident at Hebrew school sends the rabbi to Jon’s house, it precipitates a crisis of faith that causes their father to abandon them for Israel, where he is killed. As Jon departs for college, accompanied by two of his best friends, the lies and intrigues get deeper, and the more he learns about his family, the more he realizes he doesn’t know them. When he returns home for a wedding, tragedy strikes and forces the family to reach a reckoning with their lies. The characters manage to be both familiar and well-realized individuals, and beneath the banal suburban setting hide deep troubles…Slater has painted an intimate and memorable family portrait.

Heeb Magazine
*BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR LIST  A Holocaust-survivor grandmother who makes macabre jokes. A famous father whose anti-religious books attract sexually-desperate groupies. Sadistic sisters, an alcoholic mother, an unusually high body count for a novel this funny, and a plot that encompasses Hebrew school, porn producer thugs and a faltering orgy for literary deconstructionists without missing a beat. Even more remarkable, David Michael Slater’s Fun and Games is a male coming-of-age story that doesn’t rely on shock humor or gratuitous offense for chuckles–it’s hilarious because it’s tragedy happening to somebody else, a boy named Jonathan, who in terms of teen hormones and bewilderment could have been us…Fun and Games is the funniest book about growing up Jewish since Portnoy’s Complaint.” –Judith Basya, HEEB Literary Editor

San Diego Jewish Times

Jonathan Schwartz has a common Jewish name and, one might think, a not uncommon adolescence as he and his friends binge drink and talk about hoped-for sexual encounters with hot girls.
But all is not what it seems in this novel exploring how people of all ages grapple with their identities.

For example, Jonathan’s father, a well-known author, rejects religion in favor of rationalism. But his doubts take him to study with an Orthodox group in Israel.
Two of Jonathan’s friends wonder about their sexuality, while one of his sisters tries to become a virgin porn star. An older sister feigns disdain for her family, but separation from them is the last thing she wants.
A grandmother, who survived the Holocaust, makes obscene “jokes” about the fate of the Jews under Hitler.

Through it all, Jonathan seems to be the only one without any internal conflicts. As the world goes crazy around him, he is a rock of stability. Girls find his lack of inner turmoil attractive, and just by being his uncomplicated self, he gains a popularity he never seeks.

Humor glues this tale together. It begins with an uproarious scene when the gentle Rabbi Glickman comes to visit the Schwartz household amid the tumult of his sisters’ growing awareness of their sexuality, along with the appearance on the sidewalk outside the Schwartz home of a star-struck fan who believes Jonathan’s author father is the messiah.

Sexual and alcoholic escapades of teenagers, we are led to believe, are diversions—acts of procrastination, if you will—enabling them to put off, at least temporarily, the painful process of finding out who they really are.