I've used this story for years with my students as we study winter holidays. A small family, a winter storm, their willingness to take in a stray cat and dog lost in the storm ... it all leads to a heartwarming ending. The original came out 30 years ago with illustrations by Robin Spowart that showed a traditional family from an indeterminate past as they celebrate Hanukkah. The basics of a family celebration of the Festival of Lights are included in the story and the images. The nightly lighting of the menorah, the dreidel games, and - of course - the latkes and applesauce are all there.
This new edition has all new illustrations from Kris Easler in graphite and gouache. These images show a more updated setting with electricity, modern furniture and clothing, and a more up-to-date kitchen. Although the story begins "long ago in a village far away," it doesn't say exactly how long it has been. And the items and clothes are recent enough to be recognizable to young readers, but could still be from anytime within the past few decades. Easler has maintained a delicate balance in bringing the illustrations forward in time, but leaving them open enough to still match the text's description.
If you also do a unit on holidays and are looking for Hanukkah stories to include, pick up a copy of Latkes and Applesauce when it comes out September 27. I read an advance copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.