Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
This is a hip-hop take on the traditional Hanukkah story. The illustrations are bold and colorful and seem to have escaped from a cartoon version of Hercules. Statues of Greek gods smile and pose in body-builder positions, illustrating the graven images and Hellenistic culture that Jews were supposed to eschew. The evil Antiochus, all carved, sharp cheekbones and pointed fingers, personifies Syrian rule over the Jews, while the small group of followers of Mattathias stand grouped in clear protest against the command to bow down. Notice the detail of the children's terrified faces as they hide behind their parents' legs while Antiochus gives his orders. This could be read as straight verse, but the language and rhythm calls for a group of older children or teens to rap out the words, especially the final refrain, "Sometimes it takes only a few, Who knows what's right and do it, too." Add some beat box effects, and this will make a great religious school presentation. The book suffers only from an extra ending in which Judah the Hammer is invited to a contemporary family's Hanukkah party. The two-page addition brings nothing to the story and will have kids puzzling over this Judah, who in addition to being a sort of superhero for ancient times, is also a time traveler. Despite this flaw, this will be a fun book to share with kids and definitely offers a new take on Hanukkah. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Kirkus Reviews

The Hanukkah story of how Judah and the Maccabees fought the dictator King Antiochus for the religious freedom of the Jews and the restoration of Jerusalem is retold in this animated rhyme punctuated by a repeated refrain: "Sometimes it only takes a few, / Who know what's right, and do it, too." Balsley's rhythmic narration includes basic characterization and dialogue for the key players to make the story come alive. Bold opaque paintings of brave, bearded men with flowing hair, dressed in robes and sandals and bearing spears and shields against the army of the Syrians provide a cinematic view of this legend of heroism and determination. This telling offers possibilities as a readers'-theater choice for school holiday performances and will stand as a solid introduction for young audiences just learning of the observance. (note) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761345084
  • Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Series: Hanukkah Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 256,594
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Read an Excerpt


The Story of Hanukkah

By Tilda Balsley, David Harrington

Kar-Ben Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Tilda Balsley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7613-6234-0


At Hanukkah we tell thisstory Of ancient faithfulness and glory, Of freedom lost and freedom won, By Jews who knew what must be done.

The Greeks had gods—yes, more than one— God of the Sea, God of the Sun, Throw in a Party God for fun.

King Antiochus ruled the land. "Bow down to them!" was his command. "And that's not all. I order you To dress and eat and act Greek, too." "No way," said every faithful Jew.

Sometimes it only takes a few, Who know what's right, and do it, too.

But Antiochus had great power. When they refused, his mood turned sour.

"Jerusalem!" He snarled and frowned. "We'll desecrate their holy ground. Put statue so four gods around. Stamp out the traitors where they're found."

Some Jews gave in and some Jews fled, The none Jew, Mattathias, said, "To your idols I won't pray. Your laws aren't mine. I won't obey." He drew his sword and got away.

Sometimes it only takes a few, Who know what's right, and do it, too.


Excerpted from Maccabee! by Tilda Balsley, David Harrington. Copyright © 2010 Tilda Balsley. Excerpted by permission of Kar-Ben Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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