Because PJ Library's Book Selection Committee is always on the prowl for new books, we were delighted when we stumbled across a non-illustrated version of “Hanukkah in Alaska,” which was tucked into an anthology of Hanukkah stories edited by Eric Kimmel. At PJ Library's request, Macmillan's Children's Publishing Group, the original publisher of Kimmel's A Hanukkah Treasury (1988), enthusiastically agreed to create a stand-alone picture book of Barbara Brown's delightful tale.
Our love for this story stems from its ability to give families an intimate, up-close look at winter in Alaska. Stacy Schuett's gently glowing illustrations combined with Brown's humorous, matter-of-fact text paint a vivid portrait of what happens when a marauding moose takes up residency in a family's snowy back yard, threatening to destroy the young narrator's swing set and ruin her Hanukkah. When the girl's father takes her outside to spy the aurora borealis, her Hanukkah blues instantly dissipate.
Inspired by the miraculous, rainbow-colored lights that remind the girl of melting Hanukkah candles, she, at long last, figures out a way to lure the moose out of her back yard. (Spoiler alert: Her solution involves latkes.) In addition to conveying fascinating information about Alaska, the Northern lights, and Hanukkah traditions, this story introduces readers to the idea that miracles, both large and small, “can happen in many different ways,” perhaps inspiring families to reflect on the many miracles that fill their own lives. We hope your family will be as excited and charmed by Hanukkah in Alaska as we are.
November 8, 2022