Thursday, December 18, 2008

Non-holiday books for the holidays...

Daphne Grab isn't Jewish, and The All of a Kind Family isn't technically a Chanukah book, and yet...

Daphne has this to say:

My favorite book for all holidays is All of a Kind Family, both the original and all the sequels. They capture the magic of each Jewish holiday with such a simple and truthful touch. I'm not Jewish but when I was a kid I wanted to be after my mom read me these books. They are about a working class family living in Manhattan around World War I (some books are before, some during, some after) and are a marvelous slice of history; the kind of novels that take you back in time with totally universal stories that resonate with readers of all ages, living in the present day. You get a feel for life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with the tenement houses, the polio outbreak, renting summer houses on Coney Island, etc. And you also get a feel for holidays.

Chanukah is beautiful, with the descriptions of foods, the lighting of the candles and the story behind the day. In the hands of a less capable writer it might come off as a primer for the Jewish holidays but instead you as a reader want to know the background as much as the kids in the story do. Papa is generally the one to give everyone the lowdown and the kids all have questions about their history. There's such a beauty in the love he has for each day and the pride he feels in sharing that with his kids. Which to me is what the holidays are all about!

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