This alphabet-centered rhyming scavenger quest asks readers to point out Hanukkah-related symbols and fare, from the obvious to the more nuanced.
Beginning with “Antiochus” for the letter A, the king who “would not let the Jews be free,” Balsley briefly identifies the significant symbols of the holiday’s commemoration. These include the “Brave Maccabees,” the small “Cruse of oil” and the temple being “Dedicated” after “freedom won,” making sure to capitalize in a bold type the essential letter for each vital word (initials except for “eXtra”). Each page has a question or directed visual activity to complete using the simply drawn picture clues. “So now we have Eight special days. / Special how? Describe the ways. // Which Menorah shows day three? / Count the Flames and you will see.” Typical examples such as L for latkes and M for menorah share the alphabet with unrelated choices such as R for Reading and Q for Quick to fill out the alphabet structure. Despite this, the basics of remembrance—through celebration, the lighting of candles, gifts and gatherings with potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts—are strongly evident. Though the theme is executed capably, the production is lackluster, created digitally with childlike caricatures inhabiting both biblical and modern-day scenarios.
Though the book is unlovely, the interactive format could inspire some worthwhile conversation. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-5)