A camel, a train mishap and the holiday of Hanukkah bring together a Bedouin and a Jew in acts of kindness and camaraderie.
Eager to celebrate with friends in Jaffa, Ari balances an armload of sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), dreidels, Â menorah, bottle of oil and the bag of Turkish coins as he rushes to the train he will drive to Jerusalem. On his way are several children playacting the story of the holiday, providing a tiny summary for readers, a device that is repeated throughout. Finally aboard and daydreaming a bit, Ari derails the caboose of his train when forced to make a sudden stop to avoid a camel sitting on the tracks. Rescue comes with the stubborn camel's owner, a Bedouin named Kalil ("friend" in Arabic), who sends for help while Ari graciously accepts Kalil's hospitality. "Your camel may be stubborn, but I was not careful." The observance of the first night of Hanukkah, coincidentally on the site of Modi'in, the ancient home of the Maccabees, is shared; Ari lights candles, sings blessings and teaches Kalil to play dreidel, and together they enjoy coffee with the sufganiyot. The late-19th-century atmosphere of the story is conveyed with gentle cartoons that move horizontally with the flow of a traveling train.This addition to the series moves beyond the holiday with its implied message of friendship, cooperation and mutual respect for separate cultures sharing one homeland. (glossary, author's note)Â (Picture book. 5-7) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
K-Gr 2--As Engineer Ari walks through Jerusalem with his arms full of packages for Hanukkah, he meets two boys reenacting the tale of brave Judah Maccabee and two girls playing the dreidel game. Later, when his train breaks down, Ari is aided by a Bedouin shepherd who puts him back on the right track. As with the earlier Engineer Ari books, this one combines simple charm with a good-hearted message, all wrapped up in a bit of interesting history about the first steam engine to travel between Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1892. Of particular note is that the dreidel displays a different set of letters than those most children are familiar with, because in Israel the great miracle of Hanukkah happened "here," not "there." Combining cheerful illustrations, a friendly text, appealing characters, and a bright red train, this holiday book is sure to please.--Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library[Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.