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It's a Miracle!: A Hanukkah Storybook
     

It's a Miracle!: A Hanukkah Storybook

by Stephanie Spinner, Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)
 

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Every night of Hanukkah, after Owen - the Official Candle Lighter - lights the menorah, Grandma Karen kicks off her cowboy boots and tells him a bedtime story.

On the first night there's the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of becoming a rabbi.

On the fourth night there's the amazing story of the alien who gets lost in a little girl's backyard.

And on

Overview

Every night of Hanukkah, after Owen - the Official Candle Lighter - lights the menorah, Grandma Karen kicks off her cowboy boots and tells him a bedtime story.

On the first night there's the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of becoming a rabbi.

On the fourth night there's the amazing story of the alien who gets lost in a little girl's backyard.

And on the seventh night there's the silly story about a boy who wants to be a baby - and whose parents let him!

Join Owen in discovering how each of these stories is also a celebration of his own heritage in this heartwarming book about faith, family, and the miracle of Hanukkah.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nearly seven years old, Owen is now the family's O.C.L. (Official Candle Lighter), and Grandma Karen tells him he's a natural. She also tells him stories, one brief tale for each night of the holiday-one about a dentist who trains his parrot, Dreidel, to reassure his patients, one about a girl who wants to become a rabbi ("Like Cousin Shira?" asks Owen. "Exactly like Cousin Shira," replies Grandma Karen), etc. By the eighth night all the relatives introduced in the stories gather for a festive dinner. Spinner (Aliens for Breakfast) conjures modern characters happy to celebrate the heritage they share both as Jews and as members of the same family, and her light touch virtually promises that readers of many faiths will be glad of a seat at Owen's table. McElmurry's (Mad About Plaid) larky gouaches deepen the characterizations and accent the good humor of the text. Endnotes supply Hanukkah prayers and background on the holiday. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This year, six-year-old Owen Block has become the "official candle lighter" or O.C.L. for the family's Hanukkah celebrations. Each night of Hanukkah, he carefully lights the shammes and uses it to light the candles on the menorah. After the evening's blessings and festivities, Owen's grandmother tucks him in and tells him a story. Each story is different, but the people in them seem very familiar to Owen—reminiscent of his aunts and uncles and parents and grandparents. The stories range from the dentist who had a talking parrot in his office to distract patients to a little girl who always wanted a horse, to the more serious tale of a man so worried about his ill wife that he called every Jewish family in the phone book to ask them to pray for her recovery. On the last night of Hanukkah, the whole family comes over for a big feast, and then Owen finally realizes that his mother has been entertaining him for nights with his own family history. The traditions of Hanukkah are skillfully woven into the story, and a synopsis of the history behind the holiday appears in the back, as do blessings for Hanukkah and a glossary. The illustrations are fun and colorful. Each character's personality is nicely captured in the paintings — for instance, the grandmother wears red cowboy boots and western style clothes. A wonderful book about the bonds of family as well as the joys of celebrating a holiday together. 2003, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 10.
— Dr. Judy Rowen
School Library Journal
Gr 2 Up-Miracles (big and small) and family stories are celebrated in this charming tale. Owen Block, aged six and a half, has just been named O.C.L.-Official Candle Lighter. Each night, as he performs his duty, he listens to Grandma Karen's cozy stories of family life. One tale is of a soldier from Iowa whose search for a miracle to save his dying wife leads him to call every Jewish name in his hometown phone book (all five of them) to ask the family to pray, with happy results. The holiday acts more as framework for these small vignettes than as the main event, but various traditional activities are explored. A brief retelling of the Hanukkah legend and blessings in Hebrew, English, and transliteration appear at the end of the book. McElmurry's gouache illustrations add a light, humorous touch. Adults will appreciate the lessons gracefully imparted, and children will enjoy the silliness of Grandma's fanciful, zany family stories. Readers will recall this title long after the holiday has passed.-M. A. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Spinner's stories are of the inventive bedtime variety about family, as told by six-and-half-year-old Owen Block's grandmother. After each evening of Hanukkah festivities, Grandma tells Owen a story, like the one about the girl whose brother was supposed to be a rabbi, but who moved to Alaska to study wolves instead. Owen realizes the girl sounds a lot like Cousin Shira, who was the one in the family to become a rabbi. Each wacky story is about Owen's relatives--with the possible exception of the one about the aliens. And as Uncle Izzie, the class clown who grew up to be the comedian, says, "You never know, kid." McElmurry's light-hearted illustrations match the text's tone. So, for instance, the words say Grandma "kicked off her shoes" and the picture focuses on her cowboy boots. Delightfully funny and touching. (afterword, blessings, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689844935
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
10/01/2003
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
10.35(w) x 11.32(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Stephanie Spinner is the author of Aliens for Breakfast (winner of the Texas Bluebonnet Award) and Aliens for Lunch, both with Jonathan Etra, Aliens for Dinner, and, most recently, Quiver, a novel for young adults. After a long career in children's book publishing, Ms. Spinner now writes, tends her garden, and reads with gusto. She lives in Manhattan and Pawling, New York.

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