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.
A Calendar of Festivals: Celebrations From Around the World
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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