Monday, December 17, 2018

Review - Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama

Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama
by Selina Alko
Date: 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

I am a mix of two traditions.
From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama.
How lucky am I?

Holiday time at Sadie's house means golden gelt sparkling under the Christmas tree, candy canes hanging on eight menorah branches, voices uniting to sing carols about Macabees and the manger, and latkes on the mantel awaiting Santa's arrival.

Selina Alko's joyous celebration of blended families will make the perfect holiday gift for the many Americans who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book makes one huge assumption: that children will be familiar with both Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations. There's little explanation for why people do the things they do to celebrate these holidays. Mentions are made of leaving latkes out for Santa and putting gelt under the Christmas tree, but the significance of these things isn't explained. Children who might not be familiar with Christmas will be doubly confused, as the book makes mention of both the religious story (Jesus' birth) and the more secular one (Santa Claus). Having read a couple of other picture books about Hanukkah now, I feel like I have a basic grasp of what's going on... and this book doesn't really even cover the basics. (I'm also still confused about the king and queen. Who are the king and queen? Is that a Jewish thing or a Christian one? I've never heard of it.) The book may be short, but there are places that more explanation could've been added. Instead, we get four pages about holiday clean-up (I'm not exaggerating, unfortunately).

I didn't really like the pictures here. Some of them are okay, and I like the use of what looks like collage in addition to the drawings. However, the characters in profile are creepy. Something about the eyes...

I've been waiting for this book from the library for so long that Hanukkah is over, and that leads me to yet another problem with this book: the story--as it's written here--is only going to make sense in years where Hanukkah and Christmas overlap. The differing dates could cause confusion for kids, and I'd like to know how a family like this would celebrate their holidays in a year like 2018. Would Hanukkah and Christmas be more self-contained? Would they bother stuffing the turkey with kugel and leaving latkes out for Santa, or just keep the traditions separate?

Overall, I was disappointed. This book is going to have very limited appeal and may only work for children who find themselves in the same situation as Sadie. Otherwise, it doesn't really add anything to the discussion; you could achieve the same thing by explaining with one simple sentence: Some people combine Hanukkah and Christmas traditions. If you're going to expand on that sentence in a book, the story needs to do more than just find different ways of repeating that sentence without offering any more information about the traditions themselves.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.83 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment