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"It's a Miracle" and other new Chanukah tales hit the shelves.
I t must be that summer heat.
Though Chanukah is not a major
Jewish holiday, and though everyone
knows the basic story of what hap-
pened, and while there is no tradition of giv-
ing gifts on this occasion, as Chanukah
approaches book publishers go wild.
It's a Miracle: A Hanukkah Storybook by
Stephaine Spinner, with illustrations by Jill
2003, published by
Hardback. 44 pages:
Oh, this is a tasty
surprise. In fact, It's
a Miracle is a bit
like a Chanukah
meal of latkes: a bit
(apple)saucy, a bit
you can really sink
your teeth into.
By the time
you're done, you're
full as can be — but,ready to start all
over again right away.
Its a Miracle is, above all, original.
As the book begins, Owen Block finds
himself the new O.C.L. (Official Candle
Lighter) for his family at holiday time. He is
really excited, and when he's done, the first
to compliment Owen is his Grandma Karen.
Grandma Karen also is a great storyteller,
and each night at bedtime she tells Owen a
"Once there was a little girl who loved to
light the candles," Grandma begins the first
night. "By the time she was 3 she knew all
the blessings by heart, and she sang them
perfectly while she and her brother lit the
menorah ... The girl's parents hoped their
son would grow up to be a rabbi, but he
wanted to study wolves, not religion, so he
moved to Alaska.
"Bur their daughter couldn't get enough of
the Torah. She liked reading it, she liked
memorizing it and she liked talking about it.
By the time she was 16, she knew she wanted
to be a rabbi."
Ah ha, Owen thinks. "Like Cousin Shira?"
The next night, Grandma Karen tells abou
a young couple from Iowa; the husband was
in the Army during World War II, but he
came home when he learned that his wife
was very sick. He knew nothing of religion,
but the soldier began calling everyone Jewish
listed in the phone book and asked them to
pray for his wife. "The very next day, she
started to get better."
Ah ha, Owen thinks. Iowa is "where Aunt
Edna and Uncle Ralph live."
Each night, Grandma Karen tell s
Owen a new story — all have a
familiar family twist. Each story is
short and sweet and utterly unfor-
By the end of the book, the family
sits together eating latkes and Owen
realizes that he has heard the story of
all his relatives — though he's a bit
puzzled about Grandma's tale of a
space- alien who gets home thanks to a
This book is so much fun. It has a great
story, fabulous art and, amazingly enough,
its appealing to readers of any age.
Lots of Latkes: A Hanukkah Story by Sandy
Lanton, with illustrations by Vicki Jo
Redenbaugh. Copyright 2003, published by
Kar-Ben (www.kareben.com or 1-800 452-
7236). Paperback. 32 pages. $6.95.
Like the theatrical
attempts of so
and singers, this
is a book that
tries earnestly and
has its decent
moments — and
even could have
been really good.
For the most part,
though, it's pretty
After you've read it
you're left wondering,
"What was the point?"
Lots of Latkes starts out quite nice: An old
woman named Rivka Leah invites her friends
for Chanukah, asking each to bring his/her
menorah and "something good to share with
A farmer decides to bring sour cream, a
fisherman will bring fish, the baker decides
to bring jelly donuts, and Chana, who has a
fruit orchard, will bring applesauce.
But each finds that he cannot bring what
he had hoped to: The cow won't give milk
for cream, the fish aren't biting, the mice
have eaten all the baker's sugar and the
apples have gone bad. So instead, each per-
son brings latkes. They have a lovely
Chanukah and that's the end of the book.
Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles? by
Dandi Daley Mackall, with illustrations by
Keiko Motoyama. Copyright 2003, published
by Little Simon, a division of Simon &
Schuster. Paperback. 18 pages. $4.99.
The fun part of this
book has nothing to
do with the story.
Who'll Light the
includes 50 stickers,
and they're really cool.
The stickers are silvery,
prismatic, showing gelt
and candles and drei-
dels. What's not to
The drawings are
great, too; you'll
love the pleasant
faces and the happy family that gathers
for the holiday.
The story itself is nice enough. It's a
rhyming tale by a little girl who really
wants to light Chanukah candles.
Various family members take their
turn, then on the eighth night it
looks like cousin Randall will get the
job. But instead:
I tell myself that I won't cry.
Randall turns. I wonder why.
"You should do it. Nothin' to it."
I light the Chanukah candles.
• • /WV,'
HOLIDAY TREATS on page 48
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