Menorah Under the Sea

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This picture book follows marine ecologist David Ginsburg to the McMurdo research station in Antarctica to study sea urchins during Hanukkah. Since there is no night in the Antarctic summer, Ginsburg wonders, “How can you light a menorah when the sun is still shining?” Circling underwater, he hits upon an idea, gently placing sea urchins and sea stars in the shape of a menorah on the sea floor. The vibrant color photography and surprising thematic juxtaposition—readers will learn as much about urchins as about the holiday—makes this a memorable selection, even for readers who don't celebrate Hanukkah. Ages 5–9. (Sept.)\
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
David Goldberg, a marine biologist, arrives at McMurdo Station in Antarctica for five months of studying underwater creatures. When he prepares to dive on the first night of Hanukkah, he wonders how he can possibly celebrate when it is so cold and, because it is summer there, there is no dark night. He and his diving buddy Rob dress in their diving gear and descend to where it is so dark they need flashlights. As he studies the sea urchins, David recalls Hanukkah back home. He then has an "amazing idea." He makes eight stacks of urchins for the eight nights of Hanukkah that the oil burned, and a ninth for the shamash helper candle. He puts a starfish on top of each and photographs the underwater menorah. Back on land, he lights a menorah from home to share the holiday, his way of commemorating the holiday and the survival of the Jewish people. Full page color photographs taken, in the main, in the underwater darkness, display the sea creatures and divers attractively with obvious concern for the esthetic as well as the informative qualities. Readers may be inspired to learn more about both the Station and the ongoing research there. There is added information on both. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Heller chronicles the experiences of David Ginsburg, a marine biologist who spent five months at McMurdo Station in Antarctica studying underwater wildlife. He was there during Hanukkah, and was inspired to celebrate the holiday by lining up sea urchins and sea stars on the ocean floor in the shape of the traditional Hanukkah candleholder and photographing his impromptu temporary menorah. The photos don't always seem to show what the text describes, and many are of mere snapshot quality, but this is forgivable considering the limited selection of shots that must have been available showing this unique event. The text is pedestrian but serviceable. Basic familiarity with Hanukkah is assumed. Useful endnotes provide additional information on sea urchins, McMurdo, Ginsburg, and the author. This unusual combination of Antarctic exploration and Judaism's best-known holiday is sure to intrigue readers. Perhaps it will even inspire them to create their own found-object art.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822573906
  • Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Series: Hanukkah Series
  • Pages: 29
  • Sales rank: 807,439
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

    Unusual Hanukkah Book

    Our family loved this book, and we shared it with a 3rd grade class and a 2d grade class. The photos are very cool, and it is a totally different kind of Hanukkah book. Also nice to see a contemporary story. The conclusion on the final page of the story didn't flow as well as the rest, but overall a great concept.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Can you have a menorah under the sea?

    Would you think that there is any life in the frigid waters off Antarctica? Well, there is! Follow diver David W. Ginsburg, who is a marine ecologist from Los Angeles, CA, as he goes to the McMurdo Station on the Antarctic continent to study the underwater animals that live in the ocean. After getting on his dry suite and tramping through the ice, he and his partner Rob swim down to find sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and starfish. David is trying to learn how the sea urchins survive in the freezing water. However, he is in Antarctica during the time when his family back home would be putting candles on the Hanukkah menorahs. What might David do with the colorful sea urchins, starfish, and his camera to help him celebrate Hanukkah?
    After showing everyone the picture that he takes, some of the other Jewish scientists join David as he takes his metal traveling menorah and they celebrate Hanukkah, remembering how long ago the Jewish people stood up to their enemies and survived. David hasn't yet learned how the sea urchins manage to stay alive, but he knows how the Jewish people survived. Author Esther Susan Heller does an excellent job telling this true story, which is lavishly illustrated by copious photographs of what David does and what he sees on the ocean floor. In addition, there is information at the back about sea urchins, McMurdo Station, and David himself. Children who want to learn more about life under the sea will especially enjoy this book, but it is fascinating reading for anyone.

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