From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–An Israeli girl wants to become an archaeologist like her father and has the opportunity to assist at a dig where Judah Maccabee fought against the Syrians. Braving darkness, spiders, and her own fear, Jodie volunteers to be lowered into a small underground cave where she discovers a literal piece of the past. However, aside from a brief reference to the brave leader featured in the Hanukkah story, there is nothing in this book to suggest that it belongs on the holiday shelf. It presupposes knowledge of Israel's archaeological significance and the origins of Hanukkah by focusing solely on the facts of the dig. Watercolor illustrations give a good sense of the Israeli landscape both above and below ground. A reasonable choice for career day, but not for general holiday collections.–Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
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Jodie, who dreams of becoming a famous archaeologist, begs her father to take her on a dig. Dad finally relents, allowing her to accompany him on a visit to Professor Hoffer’s site at Modi’in, Israel, home of the ancient Maccabees, a Jewish group whose story is remembered each year during Hanukkah. Later, when a small cave is exposed, Jodie (who is small enough to fit into a bucket) is lowered into the cavern and allowed to share her observations with the professional crew. Levine, author of the middle-grade novel Running on Eggs (1999), writes knowledgeably about the details of archaeological work, including the thrill of discovery, the backbreaking work of digging in the hot sun, and its importance to the historical record. Topaz’s impressionistic artwork will give readers a good sense of the Israeli countryside and the activities at a dig. A good choice for classes studying history or countries; pair with Allison Ofanansky’s Harvest of Light (2008), another mostly secular Hanukkah offering set in contemporary Israel. Grades K-3. --Kay Weisman