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THE MAGIC MENORAH by Jane Breskin Zalben


A Modern Chanukah Tale

by Jane Breskin Zalben & illustrated by Donna Diamond

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82606-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Stanley, who has everything, is not looking forward to Chanukah. Too many noisy relatives, cousins who make a mess, and his usually happy Grandpa Abe is always sad on the holiday. Mother sends Stanley to the attic to get a box for Grandpa and the magic begins. The box contains a dusty old menorah and when Stanley polishes it, a genie, in the person of Mr. Fishel, appears. Fishel, an ancient man in a shabby overcoat and felt hat tastes mother’s chicken soup and the other holiday dishes and when his belly is full, asks Stanley, “What’s it going to be?” With that, Stanley gets the usual three wishes. His wish for fame gets him a puppy named Fame; his wish for fortune produces stacks of golden potato pancakes and a trip back in time to a poor village in Europe. Here, Stanley shares the food and learns why Grandpa Abe is sad at Chanukah. Stanley’s last wish, to be with his whole family, ends things, as he understands now that he is indeed a fortunate boy. Filled with bits of Jewish lore and traditional humor this gentle tale will amuse readers as it extols the virtues of generosity, love, and family relationships. Diamond’s small drawings add drama. A depiction of a single shoe and sock at the head of a page, for example, illustrates a boy’s poverty and its historical context. This modern Aladdin story with its glossary of Yiddish words and pronunciations is a fine addition to the holiday bookshelf. (Fiction. 7-10)