The author tells the story of one family's celebration of the Festival of Lights in this perfect companion to On Passover and On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Full color.
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With the voice of a young girl participating in the nightly rituals of Hanukkah, Cathy Goldberg Fishman introduces children to the history and beliefs behind this eight-day Jewish celebration. Starting with the first night of Hanukkah she lights a menorah candle with the "helper candle called the shammash." When her mother speaks of the Assyrian soldiers who captured the Jews' Holy Temple and put out the eternal light of the menorah, the young girl thinks of the Jewish people "who fought for many years to rededicate the temple and bring the light back." Later, while playing dreidel on the seventh night, the girl's grandfather tells the story of Jews not being allowed to "celebrate our religion or read our holy books. Jews who did not want the light of our knowledge lost would still get together and study. They played the game of dreidel to disguise what they were doing." And so the family puts the menorahs in a window to be "a light of knowledge in the darkness."
Melanie W. Hall's soft and slightly abstract illustrations spotlight specific symbols of Hanukkah, such as potato latkes or chocolate gelt, while offering festive spreads of family cheer and togetherness. This is teaching at its best: giving children a familiar and beautifully illustrated context for absorbing complicated ideas such as symbolism, persecution, and the joy that comes from religious freedom. (Ages 5 to 8) --Gail HudsonFrom Booklist:
Ages 5^-8. As they did in On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (1997), Fishman and Hall focus on a family's celebration of a Jewish holiday. The writing is simple and direct, yet the coverage is ample. On the first night of Hanukkah, the young narrator lights one candle on the menorah "so everyone can see a light in the dark." Then her family remembers the destruction of the Temple. The qualities associated with the candles lit by the child during the eight nights of the festival are thus associated with her family's accompanying evening activities. References are made to several biblical stories; however, readers will have to look elsewhere for the actual tales. The fanciful, mixed-media paintings feature strong texturing and glowing, gilt-edged colors. The compositions forgo background details in favor of significant characters and objects (menorahs, dreidels, latkes). Soft, flowing lines enhance the sense of movement perhaps best realized in the children's closing dance celebrating their religious freedom. Julie Corsaro
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