Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Three generations of a Jewish family, plus their goofy dog, celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah with the "other" traditional song. Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah doesn't have quite the cachet of I Have a Little Dreidel with elementary school choirs, but perhaps this will give teachers an overdue alternative. The song sheet is printed in the front of the book with an after note that explains the tune's origin as a 19th century folk song to which Hebrew words were added. The joyous, smiling family lights the Hanukkiah and eats a traditional dinner that includes latkes with sour cream and apple sauce. Mom, dad, the kids and the dog dance a happy hora while the candles burn and the children open simple gifts, a flute and a dreidel. This brings to mind the Hanukkah Harry skit on Saturday Night Live where Jewish children got underwear for the holiday to explain why it doesn't compete with Christmas. However, the dog seems ecstatic with his holiday bone. Grandad, father, and son are wearing kippot for the celebration, but all indications are that this is a modernly observant family. The illustrations are the best part of the bookbright, cheery, and with a final reminder of the holiday's origins depicted by an ancient Hebrew family lighting candles in the son's imagination. Overall, this will be a winner for holiday sharing of an old, familiar song. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
The timeless Eastern European holiday song is illustrated with deep opaque strokes and features a stereotypical white American Jewish family.
Full-bodied, double-page spreads detail each activity as it is sung—lighting the menorah, having a party and dancing the hora, gathering around the table, playing dreidel and eating latkes. A shimmering, fully lit menorah complete with half-melted candles serves as the impetus for the family to reflect on the "days long ago," with one final Biblical scene set within a thought bubble above the little boy's cheerful face. Cherubic round faces with ecstatic expressions against blue/lavender and yellow backgrounds dominate the digitally finished acrylic paintings. The Ivanovs have paid attention to details, including yarmulkes for the male family members and the furry white Samoyed dog.
This nice, if unexceptional visual interpretation of the brief, classic song will have little ones singing along throughout the eight-day celebration. (historical note, sheet music)(Picture book. 2-5)