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Showing posts from October, 2020

Review: The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story

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The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story by Rabbis Kerry and Jesse Olitzky, illustrated by Jen Kostman Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Heidi RabinowitzBuy at Bookshop.org

A group of animate candles living in a kitchen drawer are excited about Hanukkah's approach. They enter into a lively debate about who should be lit on the first night of the holiday; the various Hanukkah candles, and oddly, the Shabbat candles, and even the Havdalah candle argue for their own suitability for this role. Only Little Flicker, the smallest candle, hangs back, instead supporting others and providing useful information. At last the rest of the candles realize that modest Little Flicker is so helpful that he should be the shamash, the helper candle. "He smiled brightly because he knew he was there to help. And that was the most important way to bring more light to Hanukkah."

The logic of anthropomorphic candles who apparently survive repeated lightings is a bit shaky, and the text is a bit …

Review: Nicanor's Gate

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Nicanor's Gate by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Alida Massari Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel KaminBuy at Bookshop.org

Nicanor’s Gate by Eric Kimmel was first published by The Jewish Publication Society in 1979 with illustrations by Jerry Joyner (1938-2019). The undersized 7x7 inch trim had lengthy, dense text in a small font on the right side of each page along with a framed two color black and blue, difficult-to-decipher illustration on the right. It’s no wonder the book hasn’t circulated from my synagogue library since 1990! Fortunately, Eric Kimmel has penned a new, more accessible version of this wonderful, ancient Talmudic tale with lush, radiant full-color, full spread illustrations in earth tones, blues, and pinks by Alida Massari (Under the Sabbath Lamp, 2017). The simple, clear, and concise text tells the story of the wealthy merchant from Alexandria who volunteers to commission new gates for the ruined Temple in Jerusalem. But when the ship carrying Nicanor an…