Allison Ofanansky and Eliyahu Alpern are back with another addition to their How It’s Made series, which teaches children about Jewish heritage and traditions. This time, the topic is Hanukkah; Ofanansky presents background and current practice in her signature clear and easy-to-understand style.
The focus of this book is the menorah. In addition to explaining how to use the menorah properly, the author adds the traditional Hebrew blessings in both translation and transliteration. A section is devoted to the materials often used in fashioning this popular ritual item. A page on “Making a Brass Menorah” features one artist and how he plies his craft. There are similar pages for “Making a Glass Menorah” and “Making a Wooden Menorah.” This is followed by a section showing the reader how to make a menorah as a craft project.
The book also includes instruction for making latkes, candles, olive oil, and dreidels (plus directions for how to play). An introduction to the special Israeli treat of sufganiyot is presented, as are a number of simple Hanukkah games.
Alpern’s photographs are bright and appealing, welcoming the reader right into the festivities. They add pizzazz and spirit to this all-around attractive volume.
This informative and engaging book is highly recommended for all ages as the explanations are simple enough to be understood by preschool listeners, although the content has substance and will interest older readers as well. The crafts vary in sophistication, with some requiring help and others designed to be done independently.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.