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Solid Overview of Hanukkah
on December 26, 2013
Children’s books are items I rarely purchase or review given that our daughter is 12 and has long passed the time when she would be interested in a Sesame Street book. With that said, there are some children’s books worth picking up from time to time if anything, to see what type of information the publisher’s are promoting. At a recent book fair at our daughter’s school, we say The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer on one of the book tables and could not resist buying it, especially since it was only $2.50.
We have family members that celebrate Hanukkah so we know a bit about this important Jewish celebration. Seeing a book that provides children a through yet simple discussion of what this holiday is all about and why it is celebrated was very interesting, especially a book that utilizes the well known characters from Sesame Street, in this instance The Count. Much of this holiday centers around the number 8 and it is that theme which the authors of this book center their approach, using this number throughout the book to outline to the children who will read this book why that number is so important. Starting with a list of 8 ingredients, the lovable Sesame Street character Grover hands a shopping list to The Count, a list containing the necessary elements to make latkes, a potato like food made during Hanukkah.
The authors also do a wonderful job explaining the meaning behind the lighting of the menorah to include the use of the shamash candle to light each of the 8 candles used during the celebration of Hanukkah, one candle for each night of the holiday period. There is also a brief yet helpful overview of the history behind how Hanukkah came to be established, specifically the story of the Macabee’s revolt against Antiochus. The miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days and 8 nights is also discussed noting “Hanukkah celebrates the victory of Judah’s small army and the miracle of the oil.” The Count also plays with the dreidel and chocolate coins which are also important elements of the traditional Hanukkah celebration.
The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown is an excellent little book that aptly explains the reason behind this important Jewish holiday. It is certainly a children’s book, however, given that most are likely unfamiliar with the background of this holiday, most adults would certainly do well to read through this book. While Hanukkah is not a holiday that most believers take part in, understanding the miracle God provided on behalf of the people of Israel in this time in history is definitely a salient reminder that God is faithful and those who are committed to Him will find Him an ever present help in time of trouble or distress. The time of Hanukkah is a remembrance of that fact and this book does a great job of reminding us of that important truth in a simple yet profound way. I was not surprised to see the absence of God’s name in this book given it is a rather secular look at Hanukkah. Those who might purchase this book will need to remind their children or themselves that this holiday is about God’s sovereignty as demonstrated in the story of the Maccabee’s and the provision of oil for the temple. If anything, it will spark needed discussion between parents and children on matters of biblical history, theology, and the simple yet profound truth that God is always there for His people.