Review: Is It Hanukkah Yet?
Is It Hanukkah Yet?
by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by Monique Dong
Step Into Reading Level 2, Random House
Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Heidi Rabinowitz
The exuberant first person voice of a nameless little girl makes the controlled vocabulary come alive in this early reader. The child and her grandparents happily prepare for the holiday, and celebrate when the parents arrive home from work at sundown. Typical Hanukkah activities such as making latkes, reading about the Maccabees, lighting candles, playing dreidel, and eating sufganiyot are woven naturally into the story. Grandma gifts her granddaughter the music box they play with at her house ("Now you can hear our special song anytime you like!"), which pleasantly emphasizes relationships instead of consumerism.
Originally published in 2000 with pictures by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, this new edition has energetic, rounded illustrations by Monique Dong, arranged with plenty of white space to give the eyes of early readers a break. The storyline has also been updated: in this version, both parents work while the grands babysit, and Grandpa cooks the latkes. In addition, we see Grandma using her cell phone to take a photo, a nicely modern touch.
As a typical story of a white Jewish Ashkenazi middle class North American family celebrating Hanukkah, this book hits all the right beats. As an early reader, the authentic and positive Jewish content is extremely welcome.
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bookoflifepodcast.com. Heidi is Past President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and Library Director at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida.