Reviews for Hanukkah at Valley Forge


Booklist Reviews 2006 August #2
The team that created Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John Quincy Adams (2004) offers younger readers another fictionalized portrayal of an event from American history. On a cold December night at Valley Forge (1778), General Washington spies a young soldier lighting a Hanukkah candle. During a brief conversation the soldier explains the background of the holiday to Washington and the two note the similarities between the ancient conflict between the Maccabees and the Greeks and the War for Independence against England. An afterword clarifies the source of this story and provides further background about documented events. Harlin's evocative paintings are rich with period details that successfully bring the settings to life. A well-told story appropriate for both history classes and religious groups, this picture book for older children can spark discussions about the reasons for war. ((Reviewed September 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
While the Revolutionary Army is encamped at Valley Forge, General George Washington comes upon a soldier, lighting Hanukkah candles, who relates the holiday's history. Working from a historical anecdote, Krensky expertly weaves some of Washington's own words into the invented dialogue. The framed watercolor paintings are suffused with soft light, as if illuminated by the candles. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2006 November #1
Taking a small segment of American Revolutionary history noted in Jacob Rader Marcus's United States Jewry 1776-1985, Krensky constructs a story around an American soldier's Hanukkah observance one cold December night at Valley Forge. When the weary and troubled George Washington comes upon a soldier's private lighting of the menorah in his cabin, the Polish-born Jewish warrior offers an explanation of the holiday and ritual. Patiently listening, Washington wisely parallels the struggle for freedom in which they are both engaged with that of the Maccabees' battle. Both are able to gain a bit of hope and resolve through the idea that belief in miracles is much needed in the effort to create a better world. Watercolors in deep purple hues show wintry Valley Forge scenes paralleled by the golden glows of the ancient Temple confrontation and combine to portray, through life-like portrait-style illustrations, the emotional significance of the verbal exchange between Washington and his unnamed soldier. A beautiful and excellent bit of historical drama and fiction based on two analogous events in history. (Picture book. 7-12) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 September #4

The young Jewish soldier at the center of this story doesn't seem to have much to celebrate. Nonetheless, he dons a yarmulke and lights candles for the first night of Hanukkahâ€"drawing none other than General Washington to his door. As the menorah casts a glow on the general's face, the soldier recounts the story of the Maccabees, and Washington finds solace in the parallels between that ancient struggle and his own ("We too have a cruel enemy who leaves us only with the choice of brave resistance or abject submission"). Basing their story on a true incident (explained in an endnote), the team behind Paul Revere's Midnight Ride creates a thoughtful and touching book. The volume moves fluidly between the two time periods, infusing the scenes with urgency and intensity, and the portrait of Washington here is not only heroic, but human. An excellent reminder of the relevancy and importance of the holiday's message through the ages. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)

[Page 68]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2006 October

Gr 2-4 The presence of Jews in the American Revolution is the subject of this fictional encounter between General George Washington and a Polish immigrant fighting with the Continental Army. As Washington surveys his troops on a cold winter's evening, he stops at a hut to watch the soldier as he lights candles and murmurs a prayer. The man explains that it's Hanukkah, and tells the general the ancient story of the fight for religious freedom against King Antiochus. Likening the Jews' struggle and ultimate triumph against a powerful oppressor to the American fight for independence provides a bridge between these two men and broadens the scope of the tale. Quietly beautiful watercolor illustrations draw a visual distinction between the frigid blue Pennsylvania night and the golden light of ancient Israel, which is further reflected in the warm glow of the Hanukkah candles. An author's note details the historical facts upon which this anecdote is based, providing an interesting perspective through which to view a familiar holiday story.Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

[Page 97]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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