Nov 25, 2013

Thanksgiving and Hannukkah Converge

This year Thanksgiving and Hannukkah together to make Thanksgivukkah. Rarely does Thanksgiving fall this late on the calendar, nor does Hannukkah come as early. In this case, though, as rare as it is, digital communication has landed this new word in Wikipedia, on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube,  and it even has a hashtag on Twitter (#Thanksgivakkah). 

What I couldn't find, even in these times of instantaneous publishing, was a picture book about it. You'd think that when two such important celebrations converge every 150 years it would merit a picture book of its own, wouldn't you?

Instead, I'll feature a few titles about the more conventional annual event, spelled in a variety of ways:
Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Channukah, and at least ten others.

Blue Apple Books, 2008
HANUKKAH HAIKU, written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Karla Gudeon provides an ideal starting point. It's vibrant colors and traditional images in figures, symbols, and border trims combine with simple and descriptive haikus to describe and celebrate the story of Hanukkah. The successively cut-page design is dramatic and gorgeous, concluding with a look resembling an heirloom quilt or tapestry. Back matter offers the explanation of the blessing said at the lighting of the candles each day. This book offers something for everyone, regardless of ethnicity or age.

Harper Collins, 2004

A more sober but uplifting title is by the prolific and incomparable Eve Bunting: ONE CANDLE, illustrated by K. Wendy Popp. The muted, sepia-toned illustrations are as powerful as the text in revealing one family's tradition of using the first night to retell the story of Great-Aunt Rose's Hanukkah as a thirteen-year-old girl in a concentration camp. "It has to do with being strong in the bad time and remembering it in the good time. And for the women in Grandma's barracks and others who didn't live to come out." This, too, captures the true meaning of Hanukkah.

Harper Collins, 1995
Then there's THE TIE MAN'S MIRACLE: A CHANUKAH TALE, written by Steven Schnur and illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson. It's out of print now but available in libraries and online. This is actually a somber story, perhaps for older readers. It, too, sees the candles through the eyes of a holocaust survivor. Despite having a more vague description than ONE CANDLE, its tone is darker and conveys more fully the horror of those events. The miracle, though, is the ability of the survivor to hold out hopes that wishes can come true, that young children can believe in better things.

For even more suggestions check this November 16 Nerdy Bookclub blog post by Stacey Shubitz : Top Ten Chanukah Books.

Chronicle Books, 2013
Then, whether yours will be a traditional Thanksgiving or a blended Thanksgivakkah, you'd do well to have on hand GIVING THANKS: POEMS, PRAYERS, and PRAISE SONGS OF THANKSGIVING.  Edited with reflections by Katherine Paterson and illustrations by Pamela Dalton, this collection draws on sources from ancient to current, from cultures as diverse as native American, Celtic, Vietnamese, and the prolific "anonymous". The poems and thoughts reflect on shared meals, family, inner spirits, and community. The paper cut art is as complex and direct as the text, inviting careful examination and providing ample reasons to return again and again. (If you're a fan of papercut art/ illustrations, Pamela Dalton's name above for more incredible cut-paper art that you can imagine!)

Whether these titles, or holidays, or thoughts of mine matter to you or not, I thank you for reading them, and wish you and those you care for an opportunity to share your blessings and memories together in peace throughout the holiday season.

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