This new addition to the Dear Dragon series of “Beginning-to-Read” titles, begun over thirty years ago by Margaret Hillert, is very strange. Reviewed here as a library edition, it includes “an instructional note to caregivers, a word list, and activities to promote reading success.” However, except for the use of the word Hanukkah in the title and at the end, none of the objects for Hanukkah shown in this very early beginning reader are identified! The reader sees the boy and dragon go to visit a friend and his father who are wearing yarmulkes, the friend’s mother making rather hard-to-recognize potato pancakes, the boy lighting the candles of a menorah, and the two boys and the dragon playing with a dreidel, but these objects are not ever identified in the text when they are shown. Only at the back of the book, where there is an activity for reading reinforcement, are these words listed, and not with identifying pictures. Clearly the series is attempting to include only certain simple words and adding new ones would not go with the program. The cartoon-like color illustrations are very engaging, but at a price of over $18.00, this book is only recommended for schools and reading programs.
Andrea Davidson is the librarian of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and is a former member of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee. She enjoys trying out the books she reviews on the kids at the Temple and on her grandchildren.