Isobel spends the first three nights of Hanukkah with her Aunt Luisa, who has just emigrated from Mexico. She admires her aunt’s Spanish Hanukkah sign that says “Feliz Januca,” the gigantic piñata shaped like a dreidel, and the large Hanukkiah that looks like a boat with birds, squirrels, raccoons, and deer. Isobel also learns how to take pictures with her new camera, creates a bird scrapbook, bakes dreidel-shaped cookies while singing “I have a little dreidel” in English and in Spanish, and observes Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new moon. The Hanukkah customs of Sephardic Jews, bird watching, photography, Rosh Hodesh and the new moon during Hanukkah, and the Jewish value of taking care of animals are all covered, weighing down the story and making it unclear what the main message is supposed to be. However, the rich, purple and gold infused illustrations are beautiful, and the appended glossary and Spanish pronunciation guide add value. With very few books available to introduce children to the traditions of Sephardic Jews or the contemporary customs of Rosh Hodesh, Hanukkah Moon is worthwhile despite its minor flaws. For ages 4 – 8.
Rachel Kamin has been a synagogue librarian and Jewish educator for over twenty-five years and has worked at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, IL since 2008, currently serving as the Director of Lifelong Learning. A past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and past editor of Book Reviews for Children & Teens for the Association of Jewish Libraries News & Reviews, her articles and book reviews appear in numerous publications. She has been a member of the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Committee since 2021.