by Eve Bunting and illustrated by K. Wendy Popp
published by Joanna Cotler Books in 2002
winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries
This is an extremely well done picture book- which is based on a family’s tradition to remember the Holocaust as they celebrate the resilience and love that they affirm together as part of their families holiday meal together.
The book contains a series of warmly lit illustrations featuring a festive and happy family- enjoying preparing a meal in their kitchen. They then gather together around a bountiful table to celebrate a Hannukah meal.
Grandma becomes teary as she takes a single potato and retells events in her past. The tone changes and there is a flashback to monocromatic scenes of life in a grim concentration camp in Germany.
The author sensitively retells the story of young girls who manage to overcome even the most difficult situations through their resilience and dedication to one another. They manage to focus their hope upon their faith and are carried through their bleak circumstances by the light of a single flame.
“We had one candle for Hanukkah.
“That Hanukkah candle lifted us.” Grandma says, and there are tears in her eyes. “It lifted us to the stars.”
This book is a delicate memorial to the triumph of a miraculous group of people. I love the assertion of the importance of story- and the reminder that through the act of sharing- we grow stronger-
“Why do you think Grandma wants to do this every year?”
I shrug my shoulders because I don’t know for sure. But I think it has to do with being strong in the bad time and remembering in the good time.
As a parent I appreciate the prompt to remember to continue to tell and re- tell stories to my children- to set in their minds accounts of the events and people who make our family unique. My favorite moments as a mother are our family meals- gathered around a table- enjoying good food and one another-
Do take time this holiday season to enjoy this marvelous book and share it with your children.