Eight Candles and a Tree

Beaver’s Pond Press  2014

 

This bright, happy picture book handles the Hanukkah-Christmas dilemma from an interesting point of view. Sophie, a child of a mixed marriage, celebrates both while neighbor Tommy enjoys only Christmas. He discovers home observances for Hanukkah with Sophie’s family. He sees her as lucky not because she gets two holidays, but because Hanukkah lasts eight days and Christmas lasts only one! We share with Tommy as he learns how grand it is to light candles, eat latkes, play dreidel and exchange gifts day after day. Sophie’s window menorah belonged to her great-great-grandmother; her own is age-appropriate sparkle. The prayer shows a few words of transliteration. Tommy and Sophie swap descriptions of their Christmas traditions at home: his tree, presents, poems, carols, roast; her tree, wearing pajamas all day, pancake breakfast. No one mentions going to church. They find commonality in special foods, lights, songs and gifts. The bottom line of each holiday is how wonderful it is to celebrate together. The art frolics. The layout stands out with words denoting sounds or spe­cial sights floating above the text in large font. Everyone shows interest and respect. Sophie, not the parents, explains the reasons behind the customs to her friend; Jewish identity internalized without fanfare. Recommended for ages 4-6.



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