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December 15, 2011 - Image 70

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-15

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arts & entertainment

The word on new Chanukah books for kids.

Penny Schwartz


Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah!
Illustrated by Olga and Eleksey Ivanov
(Marshall Cavendish; $12.99); ages 1-4
A brightly illustrated book version of
the popular song features double-page
paintings of a family — and their smil-
ing pet dog — celebrating each of the
eight nights of Chanukah. Sing along as
they light the menorah, dance the hora,
eat latkes and play dreidel. An endnote
explains the origins of the Hebrew and
Yiddish versions of the song, a mainstay of
the holiday. Music and lyrics are provided.
(A PJ Library selection)

Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap
Deborah Bodin Cohen, illustrated by
Shahar Kober
(Kar-Ben; $7.95); ages 4-8
Board a Chanukah train ride set in Israel,
the latest addition to the award-winning
series of Engineer Ari books that will espe-
cially delight train-loving kids. A stubborn
camel provides the obstacle as Engineer Ari
heads home with a trainload of Chanukah
treats and toys. A Bedouin farmer named
Kalil comes to the rescue, and together
they celebrate the first night of Chanukah.
Lively cartoon-like illustrations animate
the fun and hopeful story. An author's note
explains the building of the first railway
line between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah
Tami Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman;
illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau
(Kar-Ben; $7.95); ages 4-8
"Is it Hanukkah? Is it Hanukkah?"
Jacob's big brother Nathan repeats the
question, and many others, again and
again, annoying Jacob. Jacob tries to

understand that his brother's autism
causes him to think and act differently, but
sometimes Jacob loses his patience. Jacob
is embarrassed in front of new neighbors
when Nathan blows out the Chanukah
candles as if it were a birthday celebration,
but he defends Nathan when a new friend
makes fun of his brother. The family's
creative response brings everyone together
in a fun-filled Chanukah celebration. The
story tackles a serious issue without being
heavy-handed. (A PJ Library selection)

Chanukah Lights
Michael J. Rosen, Robert Sabuda
(Candlewick Press; $34.99); ages 5 and up
This gift book, a stunning collaboration
between award-winning writer and poet
Michael J. Rosen and master pop-up art-
ist Robert Sabuda, is one that kids might
have to pry away from their parents — or
they can enjoy together. Rosen in simple
language traces the history of celebrating
Chanukah and its aspiration for freedom
from ancient times to today, from the
ancient Temple to the desert, across oceans,
to shtetls and the cities of immigrant fami-
lies, to an olive grove on a kibbutz in Israel.
Sabuda's mesmerizing paper creations
emerge miraculously from the folded pages.
The artwork is outstanding in both its detail
and the simplicity of the images it evokes.

The Story of Hanukkah
David A. Adler; illustrated by Jill Weber
(Holiday House; $14.95); ages 4-8
Who was that guy Judah Maccabee, and
what does he have to do with Chanukah?
Parents and educators seeking an informa-
tive and engaging book about the historic
origins of the holiday will be attracted to
David Adler's signature straightforward
style. Adler, the award-winning and popular
author of more than 200 books for children,
including The Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah, is

skillful at enlightening readers unfamiliar
with the two-millennia-old story of the
great military victory of the Maccabees
over religious persecution by their Greek
rulers and the miracle of the oil. Jill Weber's
illustrations evoke ancient times with the
golden glow of the Temple and dramatic
battle scenes of mighty Greek warriors on
horses and elephants. The story ends with a
modern family celebrating Chanukah. Back
pages include Weber's recipe for lathes and
instructions for playing dreidel.

The Golem's Latkes
Adapted by Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by
Aaron Jasinski
(Marshall Cavendish; $17.99); ages 4-8
Master storyteller Eric Kimmel delivers
a deliciously mischievous Chanukah spin
on an Old World legend of the Golem of
Prague, a kabbalistic creature with magi-
cal powers to help the Jewish people.
When Rabbi Judah of Prague leaves his
new housemaid Basha with a long list of
chores for the holiday celebration, he cau-
tions her not to leave the hard-working
golem alone in the house. The only way
to get the golem to stop working is to tell
him, "Golem, enough!" Kimmel writes.
Kids will delight in the inevitable
hilarity when Basha takes off to visit her
friend and leaves the golem alone making
latkes. The fried potato pancakes pile up
higher and higher, out the windows, and
take over the city streets. A festive ending
gathers the whole city for a lathes-eating
Chanukah celebration.
Jasinski's memorable illustrations show
the fantastical golem painted more like
a Gumby-style robot than a frightening
ghoul. Double-page spreads place readers
in the action, from the cobblestone streets
of Prague to the mountain-high towers of
golden potato lathes.

Candlelight for Rebecca
Jacqueline Dembar Greene; illustrations by
Robert Hunt
(American Girl; $6.95 paperback/e-book
available for Kindle and Nook readers);
ages 8 and up
Set in 1914, Jacqueline Dembar Greene's
historical novel is the third in a series of
six popular American Girl books featur-
ing Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish girl who
lives with her family on New York City's
Lower East Side. Originally published in
book form in 2009, it is newly available
for electronic reading devices. Rebecca is
uneasy when her class is assigned an art
project to make a Christmas table decora-
tion because her Jewish family doesn't cel-
ebrate Christmas. Rebecca grapples with
timeless, universal questions about accep-
tance and religious freedom that resonate
with readers from all backgrounds.

Playing Dreidel with Judah Maccabee
A play by Edward Einhorn
(Theater 61 Press; $14.95); ages 12 and up
Edward Einhorn is the artistic director
of a New York-based theater company who
served as the director of the Festival of
Jewish Theater. Einhorn's play is a fantasy
that travels in time between a modern-
day synagogue and ancient Israel. As the
young Jonathan spins a dreidel, singing
the familiar dreidel song, he is startled by
the appearance of an old man dressed in
armor. The conversation between Jonathan
and Judah Maccabee starts out like a
comedy routine, each questioning who
the other is, but over eight days a warm
relationship develops between the young
adolescent and the ancient battle-weary
warrior that sheds a contemporary light
onto the long arc of Jewish history and
ritual. Educators may find this a unique
play for performing or reading aloud.


•PP- Nate Bloom
Alat I Special to the Jewish News

The following films open on Friday,
laCt Dec.16:
(1) Alvin and the Chipmunks:
mow Chipwrecked is the third entry in the
Chipmunks animated/live actions
films since 2007. This sequel finds
the singing car-
toon critters ship-
wrecked on a remote
island. Jason Lee
returns as Dave
Seville, the group's
figure, with David
Cross, 47, again



December 15 • 2011

appearing as Ian Hawke, their record
company head. By the way, Alvin
and the Chipmunks first appeared
on a 1958 record, created by Dave
Seville, the show-biz name of the
late Ross Bagdarsarian. He named
the Chipmunks (Alvin, Simon and
Theodore) after the first names of the
executives of his record company, all
of whom were Jewish.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of
Shadows again finds Robert Downey
Jr. starring as the famous 19th-century
Brit detective (he first played Holmes
in 2009). In this film, Holmes battles
criminal mastermind Professor
Moriarty (Jared Harris), aided by
Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and helped

a bit by his much
lazier brother, Mycroft
Holmes (Stephen Fry,
54). Holmes believes
Moriarty is behind the
death of the Austrian
crown prince and what
looked like suicide
was murder. That rev-
elation helps unlock
a larger puzzle that could change
the course of history. Susan Levin
Downey, Robert's wife, produced the
film; she is pregnant with the couple's
first child, a boy. Robert, whose
paternal grandfather was Jewish, wed
Levin in a Jewish ceremony.
Young Adult stars Charlize Theron

as Mavis Gary, a self-centered writer
who returns to her hometown deter-
mined to snare her happily married
high school sweetheart (Patrick
Wilson). She forms a bond of sorts
with a former classmate (Patton
Oswalt), who sometimes acts as her
conscience. The screenplay is by
Diablo Cody (Juno),
with Juno and Up in
the Air director Jason
Reitman, 34, helming
the film. Bloomfield
Hills native Elizabeth
Reaser, the step-
daughter of the late
Bill Davidson, plays
Wilson's wife.

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