Written by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter (Albert Whitman, 2010)
It seems only fitting to review this Hanukkah story on this Hanukkah night.
The good stuff
- Perseverance and relevance–Relating the miracle of Hanukkah to an event in a little girl’s life where she needs to persevere is a great idea
- First page–“Gabi Greenberg loved Hanukkah. She loved to watch the sun go down. She loved to see the sky grow dark. When the stars appeared, she loved to light the menorah.” Who doesn’t? You can feel Gabi’s anticipation and excitement.
- Pacing–The story never slows down
- Economy of language–Much is said in few words
The not-so-good stuff
- Celebration–The book covers potato latkes and playing with a dreidel. Daddy tells the story of the Maccabees. But, no explanation for the latkes? No prayer when lighting the candles? No song? No Hanukkah gelt?
- Specificity–I would have liked the “special spot” for the shammash candle to be more specific, especially because it’s not depicted until later.
- Tension–I would have liked it more if Gabi had a couple more unsuccessful attempts to ride her trike.
- Believability–I just can’t wrap my head around calling a trike “Hanukkah.” And I could understand a little girl being scared to ride a bike without training wheels, but being scared to ride a tricycle? I question that.
- Illustration–Instead of showing Gabi’s thrill of seeing her new trike, I would have liked to see her “put her hands on the wide handlebars. She felt tall and important.” Why does Mama block our view of Gabi’s cute doggie when they clean the trike?
3.7 out of 5.0