Alexandra's Scroll: The Story of the First Hanukkah

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A young girl’s account of life in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.

When the hated Syrian-Greek king fills ancient Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods and destroys the Jewish temple, feisty Alexandra takes up reed pen, ink, and sheet of papyrus and turns “scribe.”

In her scroll Alexandra records the everyday happenings of her life, as well as the events of the Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees. When her father joins the resistance against the Greek ...

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Overview

A young girl’s account of life in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.

When the hated Syrian-Greek king fills ancient Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods and destroys the Jewish temple, feisty Alexandra takes up reed pen, ink, and sheet of papyrus and turns “scribe.”

In her scroll Alexandra records the everyday happenings of her life, as well as the events of the Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees. When her father joins the resistance against the Greek authorities, Alexandra must leave her friends and the city she loves. The victory of the Maccabees three years later returns the family to Jerusalem—to old friends, new ones and, for Alexandra, a new life.

Place and time are recreated in this story of a girl caught up in the events that led to the rebuilding of the temple, the miracle of oil that burns eight days, and the celebration of the first Hanukkah.

Alexandra, a young Jewish girl from Jerusalem, describes her life and the creation of Hanukkah, more than 2000 years ago.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alexandra, the Jewish girl who narrates this informative historical novel, lives in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabees. Like them, she experiences the oppression of the Syrian-Greek regime. Inspired by the example of Esther (named here as the author of the scroll read on Purim), Alexandra vows to record the ongoing story of her people and ends up writing about the miracle now commemorated at Hanukkah. Chaikin's (Clouds of Glory) research, as always, is meticulous, but Alexandra often seems more a conduit for that research than a flesh-and-blood character. Fieser's (The Sabbath Lion) abundant illustrations glow with the heat of the Judean sun, grounding the text in its historical setting. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-The events leading up to the first Hanukkah come to vivid life through the eyes of a Jewish girl growing up in Jerusalem circa 165 B.C.E. Alexandra, the daughter of a goldsmith and a weaver, has been taught to read and write and yearns to be a scribe, so that she, like Queen Esther, can record the history of her people. Laws are passed making it illegal for Jews to practice their faith, and war breaks out. Alexandra's father joins the rebellion, led by their neighbor Judah Hasmon (who later changes his name to Judah Maccabee), while Alexandra and her mother flee. In the end, the Jews are triumphant and the girl and her family return to Jerusalem in time to witness the miracle of the oil. The characters are compelling and the story is wonderfully readable and filled with humor and fascinating detail. Full-color illustrations give a real feel for the time and place, and a map and afterword with more information about the event are included. Not just a good Hanukkah story, but also a fine piece of historical fiction.-M. A. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Historical fiction for children is full of characters like Alexandra--a plucky young girl with 21st-century attitudes. The setting is Judea circa 165 B.C.E. and the land is ruled by the Syrian Greek Antiochus. Alexandra, who would be considered an overachiever in any era, is prodded by her mother, a classic (and classical) pushy parent, to follow the example of Queen Esther and write an account of the grave dangers faced by the Jews under the rule of a tyrant. Alexandra roams the streets of Jerusalem with her friend Rachel, whose hair is always neat while the literate Alexandra eschews the wooden comb and mirror her mother gave her as well as any other decorative enhancements to her appearance. It is through her eyes that readers see the gradual tightening of the noose around the necks of the Jews, culminating in the sacking of the Temple. Alexandra’s father leaves to join the group of fighters known as the Macabees, the Hammers for God, led by the courageous Judah. Three years pass before Alexandra can recount the miraculous victory of the heavily outnumbered Macabees over the Greeks. The passage of time sees changes in Alexandra: she sports a new hairdo and an age-appropriate interest in boys. Chaikin (Angels Sweep the Desert Floor, not reviewed, etc.) places more emphasis on the drama of the battle for religious freedom won by the Macabees than on the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days. She succeeds in fleshing out the familiar story with historical detail. Fieser’s (Invisible Kingdoms, p. 1480, etc.) colorful, soft-focus illustrations include a historical map of Judea. (author’s note, afterword) (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805063844
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 9.78 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Miriam Chaikin, a former children’s book editor, is the author of over thirty books for young readers. Her most recent book, Don’t Step on the Sky, is a collection of haiku illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. Ms. Chaikin lives in New York City.

Stephen Fieser is the illustrator of five previous books, including The Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folktale from Algeria, retold by Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush. He and his wife live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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