Books that rhyme are rare these days, and one that is not saccharine is even rarer, so Gracie's Night by Lynn Taylor Gordon comes as a special treat. It is refreshing and fun to read out loud (always a pleasant thing when you're reading to children!). Gracie's Night tells a contemporary and almost a secular story of urban life and its challenges. Many children will relate to this. Hanukkah only comes into play towards the end and delivers a welcome twist on what it means to do a Mitzvah, a good deed.
Eve Bunting's One Candle transports us to another time even though it is set in what might be a typical suburban home. An extended family gathers to celebrate Hanukkah and to invoke the grandmother's annual ritual of remembering her crude efforts of lighting a candle in the concentration camp of Buchenwald. This book manages to gently marry the darkest hour of Jewish history with its light-filled and light-hearted yet historically-minded holiday. The sepia-toned, soft-edged illustrations give the book a magical feel while depicting ordinary kitchen and dining room scenes. One Candle celebrates Hanukkah with depth as well as delight.
Recommended by our librarian Thea Crook, who will be reading both books to her library visitors this coming week. Happy Hanukkah!