Stick with Kimmel’s many other, vastly superior, Hanukkah books.

SHIELD OF THE MACCABEES

A HANUKKAH GRAPHIC NOVEL

A Greek boy and a Judean boy become unlikely friends at the time of the Hanukkah story.

In Jason and Jonathan’s Judea, the Greek colonizers and the Jews they rule over live in a somewhat troubled peace. They go to different schools and speak different languages, but people are allowed to live and worship as they please. Nonetheless, many Judeans (mostly illustrated with brown or olive skin and dark hair) resent the Greeks (mostly light-skinned, many with pale yellow hair). In this fraught balance, Jonathan and Jason bond over the important things in life: teaching each other slick wrestling moves, playing discus, and discussing the nature of the divine. Jonathan accompanies Jason to Greek school, while Jason joins Jonathan’s family for (somewhat anachronistic) religious celebrations. But their fragile friendship comes to an end when wicked King Antiochus blames the Jews for his own troubles. The boys are pulled into the bloody war that paves the way for the Maccabean victory and the Hanukkah miracle. An author’s note speaks to the aim of reaching for the real history behind the tropes of this most widely known Jewish holiday, but the tale still owes vastly more to myth than to history. The clunky, oddly proportioned comics panels, with blocky but movement-filled composition, don’t complement the philosophical narrative.

Stick with Kimmel’s many other, vastly superior, Hanukkah books. (historical note) (Graphic historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68115-571-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.

THE SUPER-SPOOKY FRIGHT NIGHT!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

JORDAN, THE CHRISTMAS KITTEN

A kitten dreams of being part of the original Christmas story in this rhyming picture book.

A kitten named Jordan lives with his brothers, sisters, and aunt in a small town in a valley. As Christmas Eve approaches, the kittens have hung their mittens, hoping for gifts from Santa Claws. Jordan can’t sleep, wondering about the best present he’ll get, but when he finally dozes off, he dreams of being present at the birth of Jesus. Snuggling with the Christ child, Jordan watches others give gifts and worries that he has nothing to contribute until Mary assures him: “Your gift was your purr, / Your adornment for my babe, / and the warmth of your fur.” When Jordan wakes, he realizes that the best gift isn’t a thing; it’s a small kindness given out of love. This sweet message is likely to appeal to young churchgoers who celebrate the religious parts of Christmas. The small, uncredited, traditional illustrations feature friendly-looking felines done in a childlike style. The diverse humans are shown as shapes rather than detailed figures, much like the pieces in a Nativity scene. Terrell’s rhyme scheme changes regularly, with the patterns varying in the different stanzas, which can make the scansion hard to follow. The accessible vocabulary, with only a few difficult words (crocheted, sublime), makes the poetry accessible to independent readers, especially those already familiar with the Christmas story.

An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973690-82-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2021

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