Editorial Review

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Cover: Harvest of Light

For the young Israeli girl narrating this photoessay, this year’s Hanukkah observance will be particularly meaning-ful, since she will help harvest the olives that will be pressed into the ritual lamp oil. She introduces the olive trees in spring: “When the days start to get hot, the flowers fall off and the first tiny green olives appear.” Just before the autumn feast of Sukkot, the green olives are ready to be pickled for eating, and the little girl helps her mother soak, drain, spice, and pack them away for several months of storage. Before Hanukkah, the crop of deep purple ripe olives is ready, and as the adults shake down the fruit onto tarps, the narrator Sorts them, cleans them, and even works a few math problems with them. Then away the crop goes to the press, and it comes back in large plastic jugs, ready to fill the nine tiny glass cups on the menorah: “Then we sing Hanukkah songs and watch the flickering light of the burning oil-oil from the olives I helped gather.” Readers who manage their busy young lives by the calendar will note that time is reckoned here by seasons and the cycle of holy days, and Jewish children accus-tomed to candles in the menorah may appreciate how the use of oil, used long ago to fill the Temple lamps for the miracle in Jerusalem, could enhance the meaning of the family’s Hanukkah observance. Color photographs are nicely reproduced, and they effectively capture the low-tech processes of olive oil production. Even the occasional stumble between picture and text (the olives shown 011 the tarp in ripe olive season look decidedly green, and the olives which the narrator uses to decorate around the menorah do not appear) will not detract from this thoroughly engaging title.

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Harvest of Light
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