When Isobel is invited to Aunt Luisa’s for Hanukkah, she’s not sure what to expect. Aunt Luisa has recently arrived from Mexico. “At Aunt Luisa’s you’ll get to celebrate the Hanukkah Moon,” Isobel’s father promises. Isobel’s days at Aunt Luisa’s are filled with fun and surprises – a new camera, a dreidel piñata filled with sweets, and a mysterious late night visit to welcome the luna nueva, the new moon that appears on Hanukkah. An unusual Hanukkah story with a multi-cultural focus, this title celebrates a little-known custom of the Latin-Jewish community.
|Interest Level||Grade 1 - Grade 4|
|Reading Level||Grade 3|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®|
|Number of Pages||32|
- Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable
“’When Isobel is invited to Aunt Luisa’s for Hanukkah, she’s not sure what to expect. Aunt Luisa has recently arrived from Mexico. . .’ (Kar-Ben)
A favourite of my own nieces (whose father is from South America), which has stood up to many, many readings, this unusual Chanukah story is a great introduction to the notion of Chanukah traditions from other parts of the world." —Noodlenuts
The monthly Sephardic Jewish celebration of the new moon, or Rosh Hodesh, which always falls during the eight days of Chanukah is cheerfully highlighted in this unusual holiday offering. A young girl spends a couple of nights with her aunt who “just moved here from Mexico” and is introduced to the celebration that marks the beginning of the new month. A custom reserved for women (rewarded for their refusal to contribute the golden calf, according to Jewish tradition), Rosh Hodesh takes on special meaning at Chanukah, and DaCosta and Mosz team up to pro-duce an evocative portrayal of this multicultural festival. Mosz’s purple and gold crayon and watercolor illustra-tions feature characters with large, dreamy eyes against a background of dreidel-shaped pinatas and cookies, “Feliz Januca” banners, and whimsical menorahs. DaCosta’s first-person text, if a bit static, aptly conveys a child’s won-der at new experience and the warmth of a growing bond with a beloved adult.
As Da Costa reminds us in an author’s note that precedes the story, Hanukkah "celebrates a time more than 2,000 years ago, when a small group of Jews fought an army of Syria and took back the holy city of Jerusalem. "When the Jews rededicated their temple and lit the sacred lamp known as the menorah, there was very little oil to keep the seven-branch candelabra burning. According to legend, however, the menorah burned brightly for eight days. American Jews are familiar with how this eight-day winter holiday is celebrated: each night one more candle is lit, children play with dreidels (a four-sided spinning top), sing songs, and eat fried potato latkes and chocolates shaped like coins. When little Isobel gets to visit with her Aunt Luisa who has recently moved to the United States from Mexico, she learns that Jews from Latin America also celebrate ’’Januca’’ but with a few differences. For ex-ample, Isobel gets to hit a large piñata shaped like a dreidel that is filled with candy and toys. Instead of latkes, Isobel helps her aunt prepare couscous, a Middle Eastern dish of crushed bulgar wheat. And then there’s the Ha-nukkah moon, which is the “luna nueva” or new moon that always appears during Hanukkah. With each new tra-dition, Isobel’s appreciation for her aunt’s culture grows. This handsomely illustrated book is a welcome addition to the winter holiday season.
School Library Journal
The Horn Book Guide
For Hanukkah, Isobel visits her aunt Luisa, who “just moved here from Mex-ico,” and learns new holiday traditions. Though the educational aspect of the text can overwhelm its sense of story, the depiction of Sephardic traditions is welcome. Mosz’s earthy desert tones and deep purple-hued nights evoke the warmth of this contemporary Hanukkah celebration.
Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review
Isobel is going to spend Hanukkah with her aunt Luisa. She is a little worried because her aunt has only just come from Mexico and Isobel wonders if her aunt will know ―how we celebrate Hanukkah here.‖ Her father tells his daughter that at Aunt Luisa’s house she will get to celebrate the Hanukkah Moon. Isobel has not idea what a Ha-nukkah Moon is. What is her father talking about? When Isobel gets inside Aunt Luisa’s house she sees that there is a banner decorated with birds hung over the fireplace and a piñata shaped like a dreidel hanging from the ceiling. In the window Aunt Luisa has a hanukkiah but it does not look anything like the one that Isobel has at home. That night they exchange gifts. Aunt Luisa gives Isobel a little camera and in the morning she gets Isobel up very early to take photographs of the birds in the tree in Aunt Luisa’s yard. When they light the hanukkiah on the second eve-ning Aunt Luisa gives Isobel a lovely scrapbook for her bird photographs. The next day Isobel and her aunt prepare for a Hanukkah Moon party. They make dreidel-shaped cookies and couscous and in the evening Aunt Luisa’s photography students come for dinner. They are not the only guests though. After the meal and after Isobel has broken open the piñata, everyone goes outside. Because it is the night of the new moon, it is very dark and in the darkness Isobel sees two deer and a raccoon come to eat the food that Aunt Luisa has put out for them. Isobel’s visit at her Aunt’s house turns out better than she could have dreamed. In this very unique picture book we meet a little girl who discovers that there is nothing wrong with finding new ways to celebrate a beloved holiday. Not only that, but the new traditions can be just as wonderful as the old ones that are so comfortable, reassuring and famil-iar. Best of all, the little girl is able to develop a special bond with her aunt as she shares the Hanukkah Moon with her. Beautifully and sensitively written, this is a very special holiday title.