This book will be useful as a starting point for teachers, librarians and students who want to search out some interesting...

LIGHTING OUR WORLD

Lights, bonfires, fireworks and candles: All are used throughout the world to celebrate a great range of holidays. 

As the book moves through the year, a child introduces himself or herself and then provides information on such celebrations as Chinese New Year; St. Joseph’s Day in Valencia, Spain, when Las Fallas is celebrated with the burning of large puppets; Nowruz, a pre-Islamic New Year festival in Iran when people jump over bonfires to bring good luck in the coming year; and Inti Raymi, the Peruvian sun festival. The spread for July brings together Independence Day celebrations from several countries, including Canada, the United States, Argentina, the Bahamas, France and Belgium. Although light is mentioned in some of these short descriptions, it’s not necessarily a focal point. The information provided about the holidays is accurate but limited, and there are no sources, maps or related activities. The acrylic and ink illustrations are garishly intense, and although digital techniques are also used, they have an unattractively retro look. The red circles on many people’s cheeks are a very artificial device.

This book will be useful as a starting point for teachers, librarians and students who want to search out some interesting festivals to compare and contrast, but it’s not as enlightening as it could be. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-594-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage.

ELAN, SON OF TWO PEOPLES

Thirteen-year-old Elan learns about his dual Jewish and Pueblo Indian heritage on a trip from San Francisco to New Mexico where he will read from the Torah and participate in a traditional Pueblo ceremony of becoming a man.

In 1898, Elan feels fortunate and special to have a Jewish father and a mother of Pueblo descent. While his family reviews the story of their mixed backgrounds, similarities between the two cultures become apparent. The transition from childhood to adult is respectfully addressed through Elan’s two coming-of-age ceremonies, witnessed by both families. For his bar mitzvah Torah reading, Elan proudly accepts a special tallit woven by his mother with symbols of the Star of David, the Ten Commandments, a stalk of corn and an oak tree. His parents remind Elan that he is the son of two proud nations, as his name means “oak tree” in Hebrew and “friendly” in the language of his mother’s people, the Acoma Pueblo. With his father, cousin Manolo and the other men of the community, Elan is welcomed into the Acoma tribe with rituals in the kiva (appropriately not depicted). Gouache scenes in soft, earthy tones gently depict the journey.

Based on the life of a 19th-century Jewish man who became Pueblo governor, a sweet celebration of diverse heritage. (historical note, glossary) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9051-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This exciting retelling of the Hanukkah story should appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish children.

A DREIDEL IN TIME

A NEW SPIN ON AN OLD TALE

Devorah and her younger brother, Benjamin, anxiously await their Hanukkah presents.

They are disappointed when their grandparents give them only a very old, misshapen dreidel to share, but Mom knows that this dreidel has magical properties that once helped her reach a true understanding of Hanukkah. The children’s first spin lands on Shin, meaning they have lost something. They have also somehow landed (with the dreidel) in ancient Modi’in, where Jews are in conflict with the Syrian king. The children find that they are speaking and understanding Hebrew and quickly become caught up in the fight between the Maccabees and the Syrian army. After the next spin, Nun, meaning neither gain nor loss, two years have passed and the battles continue. Hey, or halfway, leads to “a great miracle happened here”: one night’s oil burning for eight nights. Finally they spin Gimmel, or everything, and at last return home with a better understanding of their holiday traditions. These modern children are not only witnesses; they use historical information to guide the Maccabees’ leaders and to participate bravely in the events—to the extent that the author seems to imply that these ancients might not have been able to succeed without them. Castro’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations provide readers with visual context, depicting both historical and modern characters with pale skin.

This exciting retelling of the Hanukkah story should appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish children. (Historical fiction/fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4672-1

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet