Pini the Pitch­er: A Sto­ry for Hanukkah

Batya Kir­shen­baum Oster­bach; Lizzy Els­by, illus.
  • Review
By – July 20, 2012
Pic­ture a round clay pitch­er with goo­gly eyes and a smi­ley face and you will have an idea of the hero of this slight Hanukkah sto­ry. Pini is filled with pure olive oil and sent to the Beit HaMik­dash in Jerusalem, where he expects to be used for pour­ing oil into the Gold­en Meno­ra. Instead, he arrives as Greek sol­diers are defil­ing the Tem­ple and smash­ing all of his friends,” the oth­er pitch­ers. He saves him­self by rolling away into a dark cor­ner and sur­vives to wit­ness the recap­ture of the Tem­ple by the Mac­cabees. One of the Kohan­im finds Pini, of course, and pours the oil he holds — just enough to burn for one day” — into the Meno­ra. Then a mir­a­cle hap­pens: Pini fills up with oil, again and again, for eight days — the most beau­ti­ful mir­a­cle of all!” Anthro­po­mor­phized objects like Pini have fall­en out of favor in children’s lit­er­a­ture but young chil­dren will have no trou­ble under­stand­ing the mir­a­cle of Hanukkah when it is pre­sent­ed in this way. The large illus­tra­tions are clear but rather monot­o­nous, under­scor­ing the book’s pri­mar­i­ly ped­a­gog­ic val­ue. For ages 4 – 7.
Lin­da R. Sil­ver is a spe­cial­ist in Jew­ish children’s lit­er­a­ture. She is edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries’ Jew­ish Val­ues­find­er, www​.ajl​jew​ish​val​ues​.org, and author of Best Jew­ish Books for Chil­dren and Teens: A JPS Guide (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2010) and The Jew­ish Val­ues Find­er: A Guide to Val­ues in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture (Neal-Schu­man, 2008).

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