Hanukkah At Valley Forge
By Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin
With the arrival of the celebration of Hanukkah, I wanted to revisit a special book I have spoken about before; “Hanukkah at Valley Forge”. In 2007 this book received The Sydney Taylor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries given in recognition of picture books and also those for teens that authentically reflect the Jewish experience. Here, the book’s vivid watercolor illustrations, coupled with Mr. Krensky’s wonderfully done retelling of a historically researched story, come together for what I think is a powerful picture book.
Stephen Krensky’s book, Hanukkah at Valley Forge, combines history and holiday in an interesting way. The parallels of American and Jewish history intertwine on a bitterly cold winter evening at Valley Forge. Faced with increasing uncertainty and mounting odds, General George Washington meets a Polish immigrant observing the first night of Hanukkah with the lighting of the candles there amidst the fading hope of Washington’s discouraged colonial army.
The Polish man relates to General Washington the ancient story of the Jews’ fight for religious freedom against King Antiochus. He draws a parallel between the Jewish fight and ultimate victory against oppression, and the American fight for independence from the British.
Greg Harlin’s beautifully rendered watercolor paintings are amazing. The bluish tinge of some of the paintings echo the extreme cold of what must have been the bitterness of that Pennsylvania night as Washington’s ragtag army fought the elements and fading hope. Harlin’s art uses contrast as he provides a golden glow from the lit Hanukkah candle that suffuses the face of the Polish immigrant. Amid the closing darkness, when doubts enters many men’s minds, it subtly suggests that faith in a cause can surely overcome all obstacles.
Common themes of man’s need to hope in the face of increasing despair and the price of liberty’s cause, echo in the meeting of these two men at a pivotal point in our nation’s early history. Some historical accuracy was apparently discovered in the research of the book, and it is left to the reader to wonder if chance meetings sometimes turn the tides of men and war.
You might also be interested in...
“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson; illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke – Here is a Young Fox in Fine Fettle….Except for the Changing of the Seasons!
I’ve discovered a picture book fox named Fletcher; and so should your young readers. And [...] read full post ->
This Halloween 2012 parody by author Rick Walton and artist Nathan Hale, who according to the [...] read full post ->
Here is Eve Bunting and a Bonus of An Early Look At Jan Brett’s Artistic Beginnings in This Classic Picture Book Halloween Treat!
“Scary, Scary Halloween” By Eve Bunting; pictures by Jan Brett Isn’t it great [...] read full post ->