Annie and her family, introduced in Tashlich at Turtle Rock (2010), celebrate Hanukkah with an outdoor nighttime journey through the snowy woods around their small farm.
On the sixth night, narrator Annie maps out four stops, each with its own significance. At Old Log, Annie hands out hot potatoes to keep in pockets, just as Great-Grandpop did to stay warm in his shtetl. Huddled into Squeezy Cave, Annie turns out the lantern to emphasize the darkness and explains that Hanukkah comes during the shortest days and that on the sixth night there is never a moon. At Billy Goat’s Bridge, Annie creates a makeshift menorah with four of the potatoes with candles stuck in them. Finally, at Turtle Rock, Annie cuts the four remaining potatoes, which the family eats with butter and salt and “a freezing spoonful of fresh snow” drizzled with maple syrup. Some basic concepts of the holiday remain intact despite this altered interpretation, which leaves the explanation of why Hanukkah is celebrated for a concluding note. Deep, indigo-based paintings nicely reflect the night’s frosty outing. The author, a Reconstructionist rabbi, acknowledges this is “an unusual celebration of this winter holiday.” In a nice conclusion, this loving white family offers an improvised thank-you prayer “for celebrating in the peaceful woods on the darkest night of the year…the blessings of Hanukkah.”
Though atypical, this will inspire family togetherness for the holiday. (Picture book. 5-8)