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One Candle Hardcover – October 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
On the first night of Hanukkah every year, Grandma recites her experience as a 12-year-old in Buchenwald, when she risked her life to steal a potato and margarine to improvise one Hanukkah light. The text feels somewhat forced until Grandma starts speaking, and then the audience will be gripped. Popp's (Sister Anne's Hands) uncannily lifelike, sympathetic group portraits, bathed in soft lighting that visually bridges them to sepia-toned flashback scenes of Buchenwald, evoke the abiding tenderness of family rituals respectfully observed. It would be a pity for the mistake on the cover (the candle is on the wrong side of the menorah here and several times in the interior art) to deter readers from the unusually moving story within. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-Another finely tuned intimate, first-person narrative from Bunting, who delivers a moving family history framed within the celebration of Hanukkah. Grandma ritualistically makes a candle from a hollowed-out potato in memory of the time she and Great-Aunt Rose spent in Buchenwald. The repeated story unites the family as they celebrate the present and remember the past. Exceptionally handsome illustrations lend a realistic quality to the memorable text: sepia tones mute and distance the concentration-camp flashbacks; softly colored tones define contemporary scenes.-S. P.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Through the eyes of a child, readers will learn about how Jews celebrate Chanukah as well as hear a retelling of how some Holocaust survivors cherished the celebration of Chanukah in Buchenwald. Passing the story from one generation to the next reaffirms the importance of following traditions.
While some prior reviewers have pointed out some questionable flaws, the overall positive messages of hope and perseverance prevail. The book does an excellent job of touching on age appropriate information regarding the Holocaust.
What makes this book special is showing a festive, cheerful holiday having such significance in the practice of one's religion and being one's true self that Grandma, as a young girl, risked death to observe it. Scholars have often been somewat dismissive of Hanukkah, regarding it as a minor holiday, and yet it is a favorite for many people. This story helps us understand why. There is a message of hope, since Grandma has survived and is surrounded by a loving family, but the deft characterization of Great-Aunt Rose shows that suffering a horror like the Holocaust stays with one for life.
As a school librarian, I'm finding this a powerful introduction to the Holocaust, as well as to Hanukkah. The children are baffled and horrified at the idea that anyone would be imprisoned, starved, killed, "just because..." - and even more aghast when we point out that the hate and killings continue now with Jews AND other ethnic/religious groups. The narrator's musings at the end of the story as to why Grandma wants to remember such a painful time in her life allow us to look at what we have to remember to keep it from happening again.
One customer reviewer has commented on the brisket and sour cream as being "nontraditional." I find this as a plus, personally. The traditional applesauce IS there (this reviewer must not have noticed), yet the family is not presented as a stereotyped cliche -- they have brought their own traditional dinner in with the rest of their Hanukkah foods and the one potato, which becomes the one candle, representing their struggles to maintain their faith, hope, and traditions alive through a Holocaust death camp.
Considering the topic, this could be a hard book to read, but it is not -- it is sensitively told, a celebration of strength and resisliency, determination, family and faith. If there is a problem with how the menorah is lighted (I can't say), that would be a shame and should be corrected in reprintings, but I feel that the power of the book lies elsewhere and should be appreciated for its fullness.
Most recent customer reviews
The message of love and hope and enduring the unendurable makes it a wonderful Hanukkah story.Read more