This appealing story includes some underused elements of Jewish children’s literature: a Hanukkah story that does not historically explain the holiday, takes place in modern day Israel, and shows a normal, (un-terrorized) happy, Israeli family. Young Jodie dreams of being a famous archaeologist and traveling to far-off places like her father. She lives outside of Jerusalem and one day her father gives her a chance to go visit a nearby dig in Modi’in. When the diggers find an interesting hole that is too small to enter, Jodie gets the chance to do some fearless exploring and finds an artifact from the time of the Maccabees. The historical aspects of Hanukkah are never mentioned, but Jodie’s feat of discovery places her squarely in their footsteps: “nimble enough to crawl through the tiny passageways, brave enough not to be afraid of the dark, and strong enough to fight off all the people who thought they were too little to win.” A well-written and engaging read, with attractive watercolor artwork. For ages 4 – 8.
Lisa Silverman is director of Sinai Temple’s Blumenthal Library in Los Angeles and a former day school librarian. She is the former children’s book review editor of Jewish Book World.