Narrated by a young Israeli child, this beautifully photographed book gives a graphic word and visual description of how an Israeli olive crop is processed. The book serves as a guide to the Jewish holidays by comparing those holidays to the changes in the olives’ colors. Starting with the spring blossoming of the olive trees, we are then shown the first green olives that arrive in the fall. If you are uninformed about olives, you will be surprised to learn that the first olives are only edible after they are pickled in salt water. The book guides us through Sukkot with the accompanying color change of the olives from green to purple. By Hanukkah, most of the olives are black and are emitting significant amounts of oil. The olives are now removed from the trees and taken to the oil press, where we see the golden oil that is produced. Since many Israeli hanukkiahs have wicks rather than candles, oil is their fuel. Not only do we get an educational tour of how olives are processed, but we also see the engaging pictures of the family who is doing much of the work. The family’s love of each other is inseparable from its love of the olivegrowing business. This book, which climaxes in the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, will make an atypical and welcome addition to the traditional story of the Maccabees. For ages 4 – 8.
Marge Kaplan is a retired English as a Second Language teacher. She is a consultant for the children’s literature group for the Roseville, MN school system and is a storyteller of Jewish tales.