November 27, 2013

[Book Review] Eight Winter Nights: A Family Hanukkah Book by Laura Krauss Melmed


Moishe's Miracle author Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrator Elizabeth Schlossberg celebrate Hanukkah in joyful action rhymes, lyrical poems, and exuberant scenes of family life. From dancing candles to delicious traditional foods to the story of the Macabbees, they capture the warm sights, sounds, and tastes of this wintertime family festival.



Eight Winter Nights is kind of a weird book, and not in a way that I like. The art style's rather interesting--it kind of reminds me of The Toys Who Saved Christmas--but the book itself is a bit of a let-down. The eight days of Hanukkah are breezed through in a series of short, rather unengaging poems.

But I think my biggest issue with the book is what's missing.Melmed launches straight into the festivities of Hanukkah, not wasting a single moment on explaining what exactly Hanukkah is (until one gets to the short nonfiction section at the end of the book).

It's clear from the way the book approaches the holiday that this isn't a book for children who aren't yet familiar with what Hanukkah is. This is not a book that's going to help a child understand the holiday their Jewish friends are celebrating around Christmastime. This is not a book that's going to help introduce Hanukkah to a child joining a Jewish family, whether through adoption or fostering or stepparenting. It's strictly a book for children who are already familiar with what the holiday.

I'm a bit disappointed by that, honestly. Alas.



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