Reviews for Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Jacob's autistic brother Nathan sometimes embarrasses and exasperates him (like when Nathan blows out the Hanukkah candles). However, Jacob stands up for his brother when a neighbor makes fun of him. The story is message-y; an unfortunate typo ("you're brother") is included. Textured illustrations reflect the tale's holiday-themed warmth.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #1

The traditional family Hanukkah celebration is here adjusted to include an autistic boy's interpretation.

Jacob's brother, Nathan, can be quite vexing, especially when he repeats himself constantly. Jacob's mother has explained that Nathan's "mind is wired differently" and that he "just looks at things in his own way." On the first two nights of Hanukkah, Jacob is excited to welcome new neighbors Steven and parents to their candle-lighting ceremony. He quickly regrets it when, to his acute embarrassment, Nathan blows out the candles despite being told they are not like birthday ones. Playing dreidel also proves to be less than enjoyable when Nathan fixates on the spinning and ignores the rest of the game. Yet when confronted by Steven—"your brother is weird" —Jacob counters with the defiant response that Nathan's autistic (not, as Steven mishears, "artistic") behavior helps his family see the world just a bit differently. Softly outlined illustrations offer snapshot views of family gatherings while also capturing emotional expressions of surprise, chagrin and enjoyment, as reflected in the arc of the story line. A creative final scene encompasses both the traditional menorah lighting as well as a birthdaylike candle celebration atop a tray of jelly doughnuts.

This inclusive holiday story offers a realistic perspective on one family's ability to embrace an autistic individual with respect and compassion. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)   


Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 October

Gr 1-3--Jacob narrates the story of his family's holiday celebration as his autistic older brother blows out the candles on the menorah. Nathan displays other behaviors associated with autism such as repeating himself and staring intently at a spinning dreidel. Jacob finds him annoying, and happily escapes into a friendship with the new boy next door, yet when Steven makes fun of Nathan's penchant for blowing out candles, both families come together to craft a satisfying solution. The well-constructed text rings true, particularly when describing the parents' efforts to help their son focus on the festivities. Watercolor and charcoal illustrations nicely convey both Jacob's mixed emotions and his family's obvious love. Shining a light on an experience shared by many contemporary families, this book is a worthy addition for all collections.--Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

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