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How to Be a DiNozzo

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Chapter 42 – Siferey (ספרי) (books) – Chanukah 2024

Chanukah was late this year; it started at sundown on 25 December and ended at sundown on 2 January. As in prior years, Ziva and Tony had purchased eight small gifts, one for each night of the holiday, for each child. They usually tried to have a theme with the gifts, and for 2024, they chose books as the theme for the gifts.

Each child had one book in Hebrew in their gifts; Tali had the Hebrew version of The Little Prince. The twins and LJ had Hebrew alphabet learning picture books, and Anthony had a book of sports stories in Hebrew. Both Ziva and Tony had selected the books with their offspring's interests and age level in mind. The other seven books for each child had been selected by one of the parents over the fall as each had seen something that caught the child's attention when shopping or that the kid would like.

Tali's books for the other seven nights included many classics. Tony chose Call of the Wild because it was the first book he'd read willingly, and he wanted to share that piece of himself with his daughter. Ziva chose The Chronicles of Narnia for its memories as well. She read the chapters to her sister Tali when they would huddle under the covers on Tali's bed long after lights out. Several popular novels for middle school kids were on Tali's wish list so they purchased them online: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, The Forbidden Library, and Wish.

Women Who Dared caught her Abba's eye when he was purchasing a book for Ziva for Christmas. Ziva happened to be looking at cookbooks in the campus bookstore and spied Baking for Young Chefs; she immediately thought of Tali liking to help cook.

If Tony had his way, all of Anthony's books would have been sports related. He found two about basketball, The Basket Counts, a fiction, and the biographical Basketball's Greatest. Surprisingly, the third book he found for the elder son was not a sports book, but rather one related to a budding hobby in the boy. Photography for Kids was straightforward and kid-friendly.

Ziva again chose childhood favorites for her son. The EB White books were some she read as a child many times over: Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. When she'd found the three at used book store, the owner had suggested Abel's Island, a story similar to Stuart Little. Ziva had read it the day she brought it home and thoroughly enjoyed the book. The part where Abel built replicas of his family from clay hit home with her.

Rivka loved Mercer Meyer books, so the first two purchased for her were Just a Mess and A Trip to the Science Museum. Tony joked that the book about messes was so Riv it could have been written about her. Ziva agreed that their messy twin fit the story. All of the kids loved Richard Scarry, so when Tony found a copy of his Best Word Book Ever at a bargain sale, it was plucked up immediately for one of the twins.

Ziva happened to be in the campus bookstore when they had classic children's books on a buy one, get one sale. She purchased Madeline, The Mountain that Loved a Bird, and My Many Colored Days for her middle child.

The final book for Riv almost didn't get to her; when Tony found The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales he enjoyed it so much he had it in his office to reread. Ziva caught him laughing at the stories many times between the time he purchased the book and when she finally persuaded him to wrap the book for his middle Ninja.

When Ziva purchased the kids' books at the BOGO sale, she also added Gerald McBoing Boing, a Frog and Toad box set, and Silly Sally for Beth. Her sister Tali had loved the adventures of Frog and Toad. Both parents agreed that another Richard Scarry book was perfect for the little girl; What People Do All Day had lots of sight words and funny illustrations. Tony snickered at the Silly Sally book; it was so like his Number three mini-Ninja's sense of humor.

He also chose books that had special memories for him to give to Beth. The stories he chose for her were ones he remembered reading with his mother at the same age. Harold and the Purple Crayon brought back memories of getting in trouble for drawing on the walls of his bedroom with a purple crayon, just like Harold. Clifford the Big Red Dog was one of the few books that he remembered his father reading to him. The final book he found for Beth, The Church Cat Abroad, was not one he'd seen before, but he'd liked the story and colorful illustrations when he'd flipped through the pages in the book store. When he saw that the copyright date was 1980, he realized why he hadn't heard of the book.

Of all the kids, LJ's books were probably the most fun for his parents to find for the little boy. Tony picked one that he loved as a child, Come Here, Cat. Its simple drawings and story about a child building trust with a stray cat had appealed to him when he was learning to read. Ziva found several books about LJ's favorite animal; lions. How to Be a Lion and Library Lion were not only cute stories, but both had life lessons as part of the story.

Two books that Tony and Ziva found together at a rummage sale, Yonder and Art Lab for Little Kids, appealed to them to help build the little boy's growing interests in art and creating pictures from varying media. Yonder had beautiful illustrations that could almost be framed were they not part of a story book.

At the BOGO sale, Ziva found Pete the Cat and How to Babysit a Grandpa for her baby. Tony guffawed at the grandpa book, but once he read the cute story, he agreed with his wife that it was perfect for their youngest.

As they wrapped the books in colorful blue, silver, and white Chanukah wrapping paper, the couple reflected on how the choices of books matched the kids' personalities so well. They looked forward to watching their children open the gifts each night and sharing about why they chose those books with the family.