A Cal­en­dar of Fes­ti­vals: Cel­e­bra­tions From Around the World

Cher­ry Gilchrist; Helen Cann, illus
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

This book con­tains descrip­tions of eight dif­fer­ent hol­i­days cel­e­brat­ed world­wide and a sto­ry to accom­pa­ny each one. Each sto­ry is beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed, and pat­terned bor­ders sur­round the hol­i­day descrip­tions. Some of the sto­ries are folk­tales, for exam­ple a Russ­ian fairy tale enti­tled Father Frost” and a Celtic sto­ry called The Hal­loween Changeling.” Oth­er sto­ries are impor­tant to the reli­gions described, includ­ing the birth of Jesus and the life of Bud­dha. The only Jew­ish sto­ry is a retelling of the Book of Esther. While the sto­ry of Esther is told fair­ly cor­rect­ly, the one page descrip­tion of Purim con­tains sev­er­al inac­cu­ra­cies. Peo­ple do not cheer the hero­ine dur­ing a megilla read­ing; Purimsh­piels are still per­formed today, and were nev­er pan­tomimed. Peo­ple do not exchange presents; they give gifts of food. If there are this many mis­takes in the descrip­tion of a famil­iar hol­i­day, how many might there be for unfa­mil­iar tra­di­tions? The writ­ing is ser­vice­able and the sto­ries enjoy­able, but the over use of the expla­na­tion point becomes very dis­tract­ing. Even more trou­bling in a book that pur­ports to be about appre­ci­at­ing oth­er tra­di­tions and cul­tures, the assump­tion is made that the read­er is Chris­t­ian, Decem­ber 25th is the day on which one of our best-known and best-loved fes­ti­vals takes place,” but, the Jew­ish peo­ple still remem­ber how they have been threat­ened.” This book is not rec­om­mend­ed for pur­chase. Ages 8 – 12.

Hillary Zana has a BA and teach­ing cre­den­tial from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She was a day school librar­i­an for many years and has writ­ten many Hebrew text­books avail­able through Behrman House Pub­lish­ers. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Eng­lish and his­to­ry in the Los Ange­les pub­lic school sys­tem and is a Nation­al Cer­ti­fied teacher.

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