Books by Deborah da Costa

HANUKKAH MOON by Deborah da Costa
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

This Hanukkah, Isobel stays with her Mexican Aunt Luisa and discovers a new way to celebrate the festival of the lights. In addition to lighting the hanukkiah (menorah) and eating the traditional latkes and jelly doughnuts, she learns some of the Sephardic or Spanish Jewish customs for the holiday. Aunt Luisa teaches Isobel to say "Feliz Januca" and to sing the dreidel song in Spanish. When Aunt Luisa's three girlfriends arrive, it is the promise of celebrating the Hanukkah moon with the breaking of a dreidel-shaped piñata that intrigues Isobel. Together they combine the welcoming of Rosh Hodesh, the first day of the new month, with the appearance of "la luna nueve" (the new moon). Rosh Hodesh is traditionally celebrated by girls and women each month, and the new moon that appears during the Hanukkah week is especially commemorated by Jews in Latin America. Mosz's whimsical Chagall-style paintings of elongated figures with large expressive almond-shaped eyes in combinations of purple and gold hues add a Latino flavor to this gentle and warmhearted story offering a new perspective on an age-old Jewish holiday. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
SNOW IN JERUSALEM by Deborah da Costa
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

In an innocuous, basically uninteresting story, two boys who are citizens of Jerusalem, an Israeli-Arab and an Israeli-Jew, discover that they've been caring for the same cat in their respective neighborhoods. As they quarrel over ownership, suddenly snow begins to fall. Realizing that they must both take care of the cat, they follow her through the streets until they discover that she has delivered four kittens, a miracle like the snow, they decide. Once again they begin to fight over who will take them home until the cat demonstrates that she loves them both. So, they divide the kittens and let the mother continue to travel between them. A map of the city on the title page will help readers understand the sections of the Old City and show what boundaries the boys crossed in the cat chase. Full-bleed watercolor illustrations really convey the mood and places of the ancient city, as well as the human beings—and cats. Jerusalem in not as clean as shown in the art, nor is the over-abundance of felines shown. But in a high-minded and good-hearted story, even these literal facts may be overlooked. Development, human and feline, is nicely characterized. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >