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.ajljewishvalues.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).