Ava’s Homemade Hanukkah

Albert Whitman. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780807504956.
PreS-Gr 2–At Ava’s family Hanukkah celebration, each person brings a menorah. Her mother lights the menorah that she received when she served in the army, while her grandfather’s uses oil instead of candles. Rachel’s aunts have a menorah that includes the shards of glass that they broke as part of their Jewish wedding ceremony, and her great-aunt treasures an old silver menorah from Poland. Bear figurines adorn Ava’s uncle’s menorah, and her brother made his menorah from ancient Israeli pottery shards. When she learns why each is significant to its owner, Ava discovers that “Hanukkah menorahs can’t talk, but they can help tell our stories.” She is then inspired to create her own menorah using objects and materials that are special to her. Bright, cheery illustrations depict Ava and her contemporary, multigenerational, and multicultural family. The holiday is briefly explained, and other traditions are mentioned. The narrative device of Ava’s dialogue with her pet bunny rabbit is a bit awkward, and there’s no real action, conflict, or suspense to the story.
VERDICT With several other make-your-own menorah stories already crowding the Hanukkah bookshelf, this one may not stand out. See Karen Fisman’s Nonna’s Hanukkah Surprise, Lauren L. Wohl’s The Eighth Menorah, Jamie Korngold’s Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah, and Marissa Moss’s The Ugly Menorah.

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