Thursday, December 8, 2011

7. Chanukah Lights

Written by Michael J. Rosen
Paper engineering by Robert Sabuda
Candlewick, 2011
$34.99, 5 years and up, 16 pages

Quiet, reflective scenes of Chanukah rise off the page, coaxing readers to linger and reflect, in this spectacular pop-up about the eight-day Jewish festival.

Celebrated author Michael Rosen leads readers around the world to imagine different times and places where the Festival of Lights was celebrated as each night's menorah is lit.

Then acclaimed paper engineer Robert Sabuda echoes Rosen's lyrical words with intricate pop-ups that rise off the page like silent exclamations.

As in many other works, Sabuda displays scenes almost entirely in white, except for blackened windows lit with the flames of the Menorah and backdrops, darkened for contrast.

In one scene, readers see the blended shades of a sunset sky and in another, a lush green landscape deepening in fading light as a menorah lit at a window casts a golden glow on the ground.

Rosen conveys the Jewish experience so beautifully that, Jewish or not, readers will feel connected to it on a very human level. His words speak of things everyone values: freedom's promise, hope rekindled, unflagging faith.

With each verse comes a new scene and another candle lit, and a glimpse at what this holiday means to Jewish people.

On the fifth night of Chanukah, six lights flicker in a little house in a shtetl, a small Jewish village, "where families huddle, the gleam of a future -- free and safe -- reflected in one another's eyes."

Looking at the scene evokes the kind of reverent feeling that occurs when walking into a church, irregardless of whether it's associated with your denomination.

The book begins 2,000 years ago, with Herod's temple where Jewish freedom first was fought, and ends with a modern cityscape in which the skyscrapers become menorahs, and the night stars, their lights.

Other scenes include a desert tent between two camels, a ship carrying refugees and the first Jewish settlement in the New World.

Sabuda's finest work is in the architectural details: Jewish stars cut into round windows, awnings and hanging signs that give depth to buildings, a street pole that connects a clothes line made of string to walls of the tenements.

Contemplative, affecting, stunning to look at, this is a book that inspires peace and understanding, a feeling that no matter what faith each of us follows, we all have hope and dreams, and deserve to live by the faith we've chosen.

Watch a trailer below!

1 comment:

  1. What an honor to have such a radiant review. Thank you for sharing your light on this book. All good wishes to you and your readers for the coming holidays. All of them...Michael J. Rosen