Friday Nights of Nana

Friday Nights of Nana

by Amy Hest, Claire A. Nivola

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
HSet a few generations ago, this graceful evocation of a family Sabbath dinner radiates all the tenderness of Hest's (the Baby Duck books; Kiss Good Night, Children's Forecasts, Aug. 6) best work. Jennie, the narrator, is spending the day with Nana (" `Today I have no school!' I sing. `Lucky me!' `Today you have no school!' she answers. `Lucky ME!' "). They prepare Nana's already clean and airily inviting house, do the shopping and cooking, and welcome the extended family. Hest emphasizes the intimacies of tradition rather than faith. Nana, for example, "is lighting candles and our dresses are touching and she is whispering Sabbath prayers and no one makes a peep"; the prayers themselves are not part of the story, nor is the symbolism of the candles. Nivola's (The Mouse of Amherst) lapidary, intently focused watercolors stand out for their exquisitely balanced colors. She has a gift for creating harmony out of a profusion of crisp patterns; despite the many elements, the overall mood is one of peace and deep contentment. A quiet gem. Ages 4-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
We don't learn why the protagonist is spending Friday with her grandmother, but we do sense how much she loves being off from school and being there. So much to do before the whole family gathers for Sabbath dinner! Each housekeeping chore is shared with love and anticipation in the text as well as the richly detailed drawings, which feature such charming touches as Nana's foot and the child's touching under the table, or their eyes meeting as they go about their tasks. There is time for a picnic lunch in the park and shopping for flowers, as well as completing the cooking and changing into Shabbat clothes, before the guests arrive. '"Is it time? I ask' yet again," and finally it is time to light the candles, the best part of the day. This is a very accessible book to introduce children to the tender regard many Jews hold for their Sabbath traditions. 2001, Candlewick, $15.99. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-This nostalgic look at the Jewish holiday of Shabbat, although somewhat message driven, is mostly successful. Young Jennie describes her day with Nana as they prepare for the evening. They bake, cook, shop, and spend time together. Finally, all is ready, the family arrives, the candles are lit, and they celebrate the Sabbath. The story is slight, but Hest captures the child's voice and the little details that a youngster notices, as well as the impatience to do the things she most enjoys. The delicate watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations marry well with the text, and Nivola's use of vibrant blues and purples serves to accentuate specific details and descriptions. The artwork's homey, old-fashioned feel fits perfectly with the tone of the story. The family is clearly Orthodox, but the sentiment speaks to anyone looking for a story that re-creates the ambience of this family-oriented observance. As one of the better books on this largely overlooked topic, this title will certainly fill a need where Jewish-themed stories are in high demand.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A warm and tender depiction of preparations for the Jewish Sabbath by a girl and her grandmother. "Today I have no school!" Jennie exults, and begins the day in Nana's kitchen eating bread and jam (peach, their favorite). But there is work to be done: the china washed and the tablecloth ironed; challah and pie to bake; flowers to purchase (violet-colored, their favorite). The day darkens, the snow comes up, Nana and Jennie dress in their blue Sabbath dresses, and the whole family arrives-shedding boots and scarves-aunts, uncles, cousins, and the girl's parents and her baby brother. The "best time" comes when Nana and Jennie light the candles and Nana whispers the Sabbath prayer. Watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are done in an almost folk-art style, with wonderful stippled patterns in fabric, rugs, and tableware. Touches of deep blue appear in everything from flowers and fruit to dishes and clothing. Nana's house has wood floors and interesting carpets, lovely pictures on the walls (echoing well-known artists), books on the shelves, and a palpable air of comfort and grace. Children will be seduced by the rhythm of preparation and ritual, and the reassurance of bread and soup and everyone talking "at the same time." (Picture book. 4-8)

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Gardners Books
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