Nickelodeon’s iconic ‘Rugrats’ Hanukah Special lives on in new picture book by artist Kim Smith


“A Maccababy must do what a Maccababy must do!” “

For the past quarter of a century, the Hanukkah-themed episode Rugrats has enjoyed a special place in the hearts and minds of those children who grew up watching the classic Nickelodeon cartoon. Produced at a time when Judaism was not often featured in child-friendly programming, the holiday special – which first aired in early December 1996 – marked a turning point in the history of the country. television.

Not only does the episode offer a kid-friendly approach to the Jewish ‘Festival of Lights’ and its broader cultural significance, it also features some surprisingly mature elements (i.e., Grandpa Boris’ rivalry with Shlomo is poignantly cropped at the end).

It’s no wonder, then, that Quirk Books decided to breathe new life into the iconic episode as a picture book. The latest addition to the editor Pop classics line of books, A Rugrats Hanukkah: The Classic Illustrated Storybook was designed by New York Times successful illustrator, Kim Smith.

“As a kid who grew up in the 90s, I watched Rugrats a lot, ”says Smith Forbes Entertainment by email. “For some reason this episode really left a lasting impression on me so it was wonderful to be able to revisit it. It was great to be part of the team to bring it back in book form. images.

Smith (who helped a generation of young readers discover classic media like Back to the future, HEY, Alone at home, and Elf) didn’t want to leave anything to chance. In addition to working on the adapted manuscript from Quirk writer and editor Rebecca Gyllenhaal, Smith returned to visual source material.

“A lot of times I go back to the episode over and over again, just to make sure I get it right,” the artist explains. “I take a lot of screenshots, take notes on the colors, the important parts of the scenes, and try to find a way to combine everything in a limited number of illustrations. I always want to make sure that diehard fans will notice the attention to detail in the artwork.

Check out a number of exclusive inner pages below:

“The Rugrats The series is quite different from my own art style, ”adds Smith. “He leans on his fun and original linework and solid colors. It’s so different from my own art style, which has fewer lines, simpler shapes, and a more painterly approach. It was difficult to combine my aesthetic with theirs. I spent a lot of time sketching out the characters to determine what should be simplified, what lines should be incorporated, and if it still felt true for Rugrats. Hope fans agree it worked!

“The funniest part was using this wonderful ’90s Rugrats color palette. All the purples, oranges, and blues bright,” Smith reveals. “It’s not very often that I use bright colors in my work, and I wanted to take advantage of it. The hardest part was figuring out how the characters would translate into my own art style. We wanted to make sure they were true to the original series, while still fitting in with the style I used for the Pop Classics series. It was difficult to find that balance. Another tricky thing was to make sure that the menorahs had the correct amount of candle holders. There was always a lot of counting and recounting to make sure they were correct.

“Representation is so important. Our culture is inundated with media that focuses on Christian holidays, ”Smith continues. “It’s impactful when a show, especially a children’s show, focuses on the holidays and the important traditions of other cultures that make up our society. Especially through characters with whom we already have a close bond. I’m not Jewish, but I loved seeing these episodes and learning about the history of these traditions through the adventures of Tommy and his friends. These episodes have always marked me, as any great holiday special should. “

A Rugrats Hanukkah: The Classic Illustrated Storybook will go on sale at Quirk Books tomorrow (Tuesday, September 28). While the book is aimed at readers aged 4 to 8, it is certainly a nostalgic staple for millennial parents who want to introduce their own children to the Golden Age of Nickelodeon.

Additionally, the project marks Smith’s latest involvement in the Classic Pop banner.

“I just wanted to say a big thank you to all the fans who have loved and supported the series so far!” concludes the artist. “I had a great time helping transform these classics into picture book form. I can’t wait to see what will be next.

The original nine seasons of Rugrats are currently available to stream on Paramount + with the recent CGI revival (a second season of the latter has been given the green light).

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