Reviews for Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
With softly lit pastel artwork and a clear, exciting narrative, this picture book blends the history of Jewish persecution with a young boy's role in a gripping rescue story. In eighteenth-century New Bedford, Massachusetts, nine-year-old Emanuel's father owns a whaling supply shop, and Akib's images show the young boy on the bustling wharf, entranced by the ships that set out in search of whales, whose oil is used for lamps and candles. Emanuel's family fled persecution in Portugal, and even now, Emanuel's father warns his son to keep their religion a secret. During one Hanukkah, when Emanuel's family and their Jewish neighbors do not light the menorah candles, Emanuel decides to stow away on a ship, after leaving a note for his father. During a bad storm, the local lighthouse is damaged, but the Jewish community, inspired by Emanuel's note, does light its Hanukkah candles after all, and the glow brings the ship home. Parents and teachers will find many discussion opportunities here, while kids will enjoy the action of the boy who leads the way. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In eighteenth-century New Bedford, Massachusetts, nine-year-old Emanuel's Portuguese immigrant father still feels the need to hide his Jewish faith. Tired of secretly lighting Hanukkah candles and feeling ashamed, Emanuel decides to stow away on a whaling ship and become a strong, brave whaler. Dramatic chalk pastel art illustrates the less-than-believable, yet still engrossing, story.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
A boy's insistence on exercising freedom of religion helps an 18th-century Portuguese-Jewish immigrant community openly practice and observe its faith. Emanuel works with his merchant father offering supplies to the whalers of New Bedford, Mass., and, with dreams of joining a ship when he is older, loves to listen to Captain Henshaw's adventurous seafaring stories. But his cautious father, scarred by the Spanish Inquisition, tells him that whaling is a dangerous occupation and that Emanuel's place will be at the store. Emanuel grows weary of his father's fears. He particularly cannot understand why they do not openly celebrate Shabbat or the eight nights of Hanukkah with their menorah's candles beaming in the window. On the eighth day of Hanukkah, the determined 9-year-old stows away on Captain Henshaw's ship, leaving a note expressing his search for freedom. Disaster strikes immediately in the form of a fierce storm that causes the ship to turn back. As suspense builds, the darkness is lit with the numerous flickering menorah candles in the windows of the Jewish homes, guiding the struggling ship and its crew back to shore. Opaque dark-blue– and brown-hued paintings provide a shadowy atmosphere; the chiseled faces of hard-working men are illuminated by candlelight. Emanuel's New World innocence, untouched by persecution, is reflected in his boyish, smooth face. Although didactic and idealized, this broad interpretation of freedom from a Jewish perspective is one not often seen. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #3

In this beautifully illustrated and evocative tale set in the 18th century, Emanuel is a Jewish boy living in the whaling town of New Bedford, Mass. Emanuel's father, a merchant near the sea who lived as a secret Jew in Portugal until he immigrated to America, still suffers from fear of religious persecution. Emanuel pleads with him to celebrate Hanukkah by placing the menorah lights on the window sill, but he resists. It is only when Emanuel takes matters into his own hands that his father realizes the true meaning of freedom and miracles. Akib's chalk pastels set a somber yet hopeful mood perfectly, while the captivating storytelling will keep young readers glued. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

Gr 1-3--This story, set in an 18th-century whaling community in Massachusetts, successfully blends a fascinating bit of Jewish American history with the cherished notion of religious freedom celebrated during the eight nights of Hanukkah. Nine-year-old Emanuel helps his Portuguese immigrant father sell the supplies to whalers. His father is a crypto-Jew, a descendant of Jews who were coerced into converting to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition, but who secretly practice Jewish rituals in their home. Having only known life in America, Emanuel cannot understand his father's reluctance to display the family menorah and thinks he is ruled by fear, unlike brave Captain Henshaw, whose whaling ship is set to sail the next day. Deciding he will run off with the captain, Emanuel leaves his father a note: "I need to know what it's like to be free. I hope someday you can be free, too." But when a sudden storm forces the ship to return to port, it is the Hanukkah lights shining in the windows that guide the ship safely home. Full-page chalk pastel illustrations in tones of deep blue and sepia focus on large shapes and characters, giving them a bold graphic feel, while the dark palette provides a dramatic backdrop for the golden candlelight.--Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

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