The Hanukkah Hunt

Albert Whitman. (Ruby Celebrates!). Aug. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780807571750.
PreS-Gr 2–This engaging multicultural Hanukkah story will work best for families already familiar with the holiday. Ruby’s cousin Avital is sad because her mom will be on a business trip during Hanukkah. To cheer her up, Ruby creates a treasure hunt. Each night, she gives Avital a clue, leading her to a different family member’s house and a new gift. When Avital’s dad nixes a kitten as the final gift, Ruby is stuck—until she discovers that Avital’s mom will return the last night, and that becomes the final gift. Avital’s family ultimately gives Ruby the kitten instead. Gehl does a nice job of seeding the story with familiar Hanukkah traditions and foods, without distracting from the plot. The illustrations, which are brightly colored, appear to be digital and have a greeting card feel. They alternate between full-bleed single pages and spreads, with close-ups and spot art. The family includes good representation: Avital is mixed race, with a dark-skinned dad and a redheaded mom, and another cousin mentions his “moms.” Oddly, Ruby only has one parent mentioned, though the penultimate spread shows an unidentified adult of indeterminate gender. Back matter includes information about the history and traditions of Hanukkah, as well as directions for playing with the dreidel. While this won’t work as a Hanukkah primer for the uninitiated, Jewish children will enjoy the embedded traditions, and the plot of the story is engaging.
VERDICT A pleasant additional purchase for libraries needing more general Hanukkah books.

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