The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories Of Hanukkah Through History

Overview

The story of Hanukkah is the story of triumph of light over darkness, of the small miracles that give hope to an entire people. In a series of eight powerful and evocative free-verse poems, award-winning author Karen Hesse captures the resilient spirit of the Jewish people through the voices of eight children at Hanukkah. The children-from Tamara in 12th-century England and Jeremie in 13th-century France to Havva in 17th-century Turkey and Ori in 20th-century Israel-have all experienced loss and hardship. But ...
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Overview

The story of Hanukkah is the story of triumph of light over darkness, of the small miracles that give hope to an entire people. In a series of eight powerful and evocative free-verse poems, award-winning author Karen Hesse captures the resilient spirit of the Jewish people through the voices of eight children at Hanukkah. The children-from Tamara in 12th-century England and Jeremie in 13th-century France to Havva in 17th-century Turkey and Ori in 20th-century Israel-have all experienced loss and hardship. But they are united by love, family, and their cherished stone lamp. The stone lamp provides each with comfort and hope, for every time its wicks are lit, the endurance of the Jewish people is re-illumined.

A collection of eight poems, each taking place on a different night of Hanukkah and following the history of Jews from twelfth-century England to twentieth-century Israel.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Perhaps too solemn if absorbed in one sitting, The Stone Lamp is best digested piece by piece, with time to explain the compact historical synopses that open each story. The children's voices ring immediate and true. They live in dark times. Faith alone sustains them, and hope burns in the luminescent colors of Pinkney's paint. — Jessica Bruder
Publishers Weekly
Highlighting eight moments of crisis for the Jewish people in almost as many different centuries, this soul-searching, handsomely produced book is clearly important. It is not, however, festive. Newbery Medalist Hesse (Out of the Dust) imagines a child speaker for each of eight poems, one for each night of the celebration. For example, Tamara, in 1190 York, weeps as she chops onions and remembers her father, recently slain by mobs, then triumphs over despair (holding her baby brother, she says, "Though we have lost much/ yet this much remains"). Paired with each poem is text explaining each tragic episode, from the Inquisition to Kristallnacht; a tag after each poem limns each fictional speaker's fate. Pinkney (Alvin Ailey) supplies some of his most striking work to date, capturing the luminosity of the holiday not just through the lights of candles or starry skies, but in the natural radiance of his characters. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Yes, it is a Hanukkah book. And no, it is not just a Hanukkah book. This beautifully designed volume, a picture book for older readers, presents eight vignettes from the long history of a persecuted people, each framed and accompanied by a free verse story told in the first person by a survivor. It's a gripping combination, compelling in its personalization of each sad chapter in Jewish history. Represented are the Crusades and York, England Massacre of 1190; the Burning of the Books by papal order in Paris, 1242; The Inquisition of Spain and Portugal, 1546; the Muslim forced conversions and the False Messiah, Turkey, 1666; the Pogroms of Russia, 1883; Kristallnacht, Austria, 1938; the British return of the ship Exodus to Germany, 1947; and the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Israel, 1995. These wrenching tales of tragedy, bravely illustrated in deep pigments by award-winning artist Pinkney, begin with Judah Maccabee's light-filled victory over the Syrians in 164 B.C.E. and end with the uplifting lines, "Sometimes a flame refuses to go out...So burns the Light of the Jewish People. So burn the Lights of Hanukkah." Truly a very special book to add to the portfolio of Newbery Medal winner and MacArthur Fellow Karen Hesse. 2003, Hyperion, Ages 9 to 13.
— Judy Chernak
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Hesse takes eight crucial, painful periods in Jewish history and, for each one, shines a light on one child's thoughts during Hanukkah. A brief explanation of the timeframe, from the Crusades to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, is followed by free-verse poems written in the first person, offering a child's viewpoint. In 1665, for instance, a 16-year-old Jewish girl in Turkey lifts her voice in song with her neighbors on Hanukkah after the man they had been planning to follow to the Holy Land turned out to be a false Messiah. Some of these episodes are well known, some are not, but all are intriguing, and the personal perspective of each young narrator adds special resonance to the meaning of Hanukkah. The rich paintings, full of warmth and light, complement the text without overwhelming it. A unique and moving book that should be shared year-round.-E. M. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this ambitious and unusual oversized volume, eight episodes from Jewish history are experienced through the eyes of child witnesses. Each chapter begins with a brief description of a complex topic, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the false Messiah, Kristallnacht, and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. After each of the histories, a child living through the events offers a lyrical first-person account (in Hesse's trademark free verse) of a muted Hanukkah celebration. More often than not, there are only oblique references to the events in the narrative. The Kristallnacht episode tells of a Hanukkah table on which Papa's book is placed. An italicized line following the narrative tells the reader that the narrator, David, hid while his brothers and father were taken away on Kristallnacht. The metaphor of the Jewish people as a flame that is inextinguishable against all odds unifies the stories. Pinkney's bold paint and scratchboard illustrations also emphasize the theme of light and flame. (Picture book/nonfiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786806195
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 10.37 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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