I am a mix of two traditions.
From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama.
How lucky am I?
Holiday time at Sadie's house means golden gelt sparkling under the Christmas tree, candy canes hanging on eight menorah branches, voices uniting to sing carols about Macabees and the manger, and latkes on the mantel awaiting Santa's arrival.
Selina Alko's joyous celebration of blended families will make the perfect holiday gift for the many Americans who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.
“I am a mix of two traditions,” begins Sadie’s story of her family’s way of blending religious traditions. Like the image of the dining table surrounded by a hodge-podge of mismatched chairs, each picture underscores the theme of blending elements to create an exciting whole (“How lucky am I?”). Alko’s (B Is for Brooklyn) prose tends to be blandly declarative (“Mountains of gifts are placed under the tree for eight nights of Hanukkah, plus Christmas Day”), but her illustrations grab attention, an exuberant combination of colors, textures, and images created by gouache, collage, and colored pencil. Ages 5–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)
- Sharon Salluzzo
December becomes a complicated month for some children with families who celebrate different traditions. This little girl's parents decided they would celebrate both traditions—Christian and Jewish—in their own special way. The reader hears about the holiday preparations, such as latkes and milk for Santa, gelt under the Christmas tree, and candy canes hung from the menorah. Family members from both sides of the family arrive for a festive meal on the last night of Hanukkah where food and stories from both traditions are shared by everyone. At the end of the book, the little girl and her parents are shown against a timeline of holidays they will celebrate all year long. There is a recipe for cranberry kugel dressing that they use to stuff their turkey. Alko's illustrations are in gouache and colored pencil, with collage that adds significant interest. Note the papers used to create steam emanating from the turkey, the latkes, and a cup of coffee. The artwork creatively shows how both traditions joyfully come together in this house, from the busy days of decorating and food preparation, to the quiet relaxation of their Christmas morning. Children who celebrate both traditions will have fun identifying each and will be happy to see a story about a child like themselves. This could also be a fine introduction for children who celebrate only one of these traditions but have friends who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. The upbeat, positive tone of the text and clever details in the drawings and collages broaden the audience for this title. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Sadie is one lucky kid-her Christian father and Jewish mother create a holiday mash-up with elements of both Christmas and Hanukkah tossed about with gay abandon. They scatter gelt under the tree and have a menorah hung with candy canes, Santa's treat is potato latkes, and they "carol to the neighbors about Maccabees and the manger." The extended families willingly participate in the combined holiday feast and listen to tales from both traditions. The gouache, collage, and colored-pencil illustrations are a lively addition to the cheerful holiday chaos. Alko includes a recipe for cranberry kugel dressing. This is not in any way a typical holiday celebration, but it certainly is a joyful one. Perfect for a multicultural holiday program.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
A little girl celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah at her house, combining holiday traditions from the two sides of her family. Narrator Sadie has a cheerful attitude about her family's diverse heritage, matched by the vibrant colors and creative composition of the illustrations, which are done in mixed-media collage incorporating bits of fabric and paper. There is no actual mention of the two religions, and the holiday celebrations are treated more as cultural events rather than religious ones. Sadie and her parents decorate the house for both holidays, including a tree with gelt scattered underneath and candy canes hanging from the menorah on the mantelpiece. A special dinner with the extended family for the last night of Hanukkah includes references to the relevant stories of the miracle of the oil and "the animals in the manger, waiting for the baby to be born" (a slight misstep, of course; the animals were in the stable, waiting for the baby, who was placed in the manger). A recipe for cranberry kugel dressing is included, along with a timeline of most major Jewish, Christian and secular holidays throughout the year. An appealing story that will interest many families. (Picture book/religion.4-7)
SELINA ALKO is the acclaimed author-illustrator of Every-Day Dress-Up, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother, and B Is for Brooklyn. She is also the illustrator of the beloved My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride. Selina lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children.