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Hanukkah in Alaska
     

Hanukkah in Alaska

by Barbara Brown, Stacey Schuett (Illustrator)
 

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Hanukkah in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.

Snow piles up over the windows. Daylight is only five hours long. And one girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating more tree! It's not until the last night of Hanukkah that a

Overview

Hanukkah in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.

Snow piles up over the windows. Daylight is only five hours long. And one girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating more tree! It's not until the last night of Hanukkah that a familiar Jewish holiday tradition provides the perfect-and surprising-solution.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/16/2013
Marking her children’s book debut, Alaska-based columnist and commentator Brown crafts an informative Hanukkah tale accompanied by lovely acrylic and gouache illustrations by Schuett (Out of This World: Poems and Facts About Space). With just five hours of sunlight and freezing temperatures to fill her days in Alaska, a girl must also contend with the moose in her yard, where she prefers to make snow dreidels with friends. Even as Hanukkah’s lights glow brightly, she despairs of ever regaining control of her backyard. Children will gain information about Alaska as well as a clever holiday-themed idea for keeping moose at bay. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Christina A. Tugeau, CATugeau. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“This refreshingly particular Hanukkah celebration effectively encourages readers to gain a new understanding of 'miracle'.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Brown crafts an informative Hanukkah tale accompanied by lovely acrylic and gouache illustrations by Schuett.” —Publishers Weekly

“Glorious.” —School Library Journal

“The text incorporates some facts about Alaska, the northern lights, and moose behavior (though do they really love latkes?). Luminous acrylic and gouache paintings reflect the "rainbow on black velvet" that is the aurora borealis.” —The Horn Book

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Just when it seems like every possible book has been written, Barbara Brown comes up with a new place to celebrate the winter Jewish holiday: in Alaska. The young, unnamed narrator relays quite a bit of Alaskan trivia before she gets to the local Hanukkah celebration. Actually, the holiday seems pretty standard despite the unique location, but readers do learn about daytime darkness, the behavior of local fauna (a moose has staked out a base camp in the girl’s backyard), and about the many layers of clothes one must wear before going outside in the most northern state. Readers also learn that Alaskans regard all other parts of the world as “Outside” while Alaska, we infer, is “Inside.” Acrylic and gouache illustrations show delightful, cold-tolerant children, sensibly bundled up, making themselves into spinning human dreidls in the omnipresent snow. The central conflict in the story seems less about Hanukkah than about the moose that chews the child’s backyard trees despite being offered tempting treats such as apples, carrots, and cookies. Just when it seems that Hanukkah really is not the point of the story at all, the child’s father treats her to a sighting of the Aurora Borealis, whose shimmering presence seems tangentially related to the lights of the menorah. In a final stab at getting the moose away from the trees and her swing, the child lays a path of potato latkes that lead the animal out of her yard and sends him back to the wilderness. Perhaps this is not quite the Hanukkah miracle the author declares it to be, but it is an unique take on the winter holiday, and one that is enriched with color-saturated pages and recalls the campfire song, “Everywhere you go you find someone who is Jewish.” Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 3 to 7.
School Library Journal
10/01/2013
PreS-Gr 1—Originally published as a story in A Hanukkah Treasury (Holt, 1998), this book is only nominally about the holiday. Rewritten and packaged as a picture book, it features a nameless young narrator who describes what it's like living in urban Alaska, where winters are short on daylight and long on snow, and where a hungry moose might choose to eat the trees in your backyard. Several pages into the book, readers learn that it is Hanukkah, but even pretending to be a spinning dreidel in the snow doesn't stop this girl from worrying about the moose, particularly when he gets too close to her swing. On the last night of the holiday, the girl's father takes her outside to behold the aurora borealis, "Our very own Hanukkah Festival of Lights." The glorious colors remind her of melting candles on the menorah, but then once again the girl is distracted by the moose, and finally has the clever idea of luring him out of the yard. Acrylic and gouache illustrations beautifully display the shadowy, rich palette of winter in Alaska, tempered by the glow of candles and the northern lights.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
In Alaska, Hanukkah can have its own special festival of lights when conditions are just right to witness the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Living so far north presents challenges as well as the wonder of a wintry natural landscape. In a little girl's backyard, a moose has taken up residence, nibbling on the branches of the tree where the girl's swing hangs. While beautiful, the moose can also be dangerous. Luring him away with apples and carrots does not work, but when the girl and her family cautiously come out on the last clear night of Hanukkah to watch the colorful display in the darkened sky, a trail of latkes on the snow tempts the moose away from the swing, to the relief of this clever little girl. This story was first published in the anthology A Hanukkah Treasury, edited by Eric A. Kimmel (1998). In this picture-book rendition, Schuett illuminates the uniquely glacial atmosphere with realistic acrylic and gouache paintings that visually climax with a sash of skylight colors that emulates the melding of Hanukkah candle wax. The symbolism of the holiday is articulated in the little girl's final reflection: "Hanukkah can be pretty funny in Alaska, and miracles can happen in a lot of different ways." This refreshingly particular Hanukkah celebration effectively encourages readers to gain a new understanding of "miracle." (author's note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805097481
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
10/22/2013
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
389,583
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Brown has been a newspaper columnist, among other pursuits, before devoting herself to early learning. Hanukkah in Alaska is her first children's book. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Stacey Schuett has illustrated many acclaimed books for children. She lives in Sebastapol, California.

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