Oh, the last line of this book.
You have to read this book just for the last line.
Zander is sent to a camp for kids with ‘heightened emotional and mental states,’ or, in the words of the campers, a camp for crazies. But this isn’t just a book a book about a bunch of crazy teenagers. It’s a true literary treasure.
We start the story not knowing why Zander is at the camp, but neither do any of the other campers. When Zander begins to connect with some very eccentric characters–Grover Cleveland, Alex Trebek, and (most importantly) Cassie–we learn more about her along with them. And we learn more about them along with her. These characters are so complex and real and raw. All the problems a teenager might have to deal with are dealt with here: death, suicide, body image, loneliness, attention-seeking–all the things.
You may not know this about me, but I am envious of Hanukkah. I think it is such a beautiful holiday, and I wish I could celebrate it. Think about the history. The story goes that in 168 B.C., the Syrians invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish holy Temple, renaming it for the Greek god Zeus and insisting the Jews convert or die. A resistance led by the Maccabees took on the Syrians and, though they were seriously outnumbered, won the day. The Temple had to be purified and re-dedicated (Hanukkah means dedication). The first thing the Maccabees did when they re-took the Temple was light the ner tamid, or eternal light. This light was supposed to burn constantly in the Temple, but the Maccabees found only enough oil for one day. They sent a messenger to retrieve more oil, but his mission would take 8 days. They prayed for divine intervention, and somehow, that single jar of oil lasted until the messenger returned.
Whew. That’s good stuff. So Hanukkah celebrates all that story encompasses: the 8 days of miraculous oil, the struggle against the assimilation into Greek culture and the loss of Jewish heritage, the dedication of the Jewish people to stand against forces that would destroy their culture and force them to be something new.
If you’re Jewish, and I got any of this wrong, please tell me. Because I love this story. I love the idea of a people standing up, Hard, for what they believe in and not allowing themselves to be swayed by violence or tyranny. We should all be so brave.
Having said all that, I might not be Jewish, and therefore I can’t really celebrate Hanukkah, but I can sure give you ways to celebrate it yourself or to teach your littles about this truly amazing holiday.
Sometimes other bloggers or friends get the chance to tell me about a book I’ve never read. I know. It happens more often than you’d think. This week, my good friend Katie from Storybook Ancestor (and author of the Wayfaring Sisters series) is getting to do that for all of us. Because she offered to review Seedfolks for you guys, and I’ve never read it. Imagine how exited I now am to get my hands on this book. You will be, too.
Oh my. Have you read this book with your littles? If not, you’re in for a treat. If so, then I have some ideas to make it even more special this holiday season.
Snowmen at Christmas is an absolutely gorgeous book. The story, in gentle rhyme, tells all about how snowmen celebrate Christmas all through the night of Christmas Eve. And it’s good. Really good. But the most special part of this book is the stunning illustrations by Mark Buehner. The colorful Christmas lights reflecting on the snow. The warm street lamps and the shop windows. These pictures evoke the warmth and beauty of the holiday season as well as any evening spent in front of your own Christmas tree.
This book has the stuff. No doubt.