(A weekly Friday roundup of doings in the children’s literature world that centers on poetry is provided by the delightful
Today I share lines from the poetry of Karen Hesse in
THE STONE LAMP, which features the artwork
of Brian Pinkney.
by Karen Hesse
Venice, Italy 1546
. . .
Mother makes ready the lamp,
though she dare not place it in the tall window.
The stone lamp is not our most beautiful.
But it is our oldest and dearest, a present from Uncle Diogo,
dear uncle Diogo, who always smelled of honeyed lemons.
Outside, the call of geese.
I glimpse a flutter of white
and for a moment I see
angels gliding past our widow,
the light from our room glazing their wings.
© Karen Hesse
This excerpt above is from the poem-story of Reyna, age 15, one of eight child characters, ages eight through 16, Karen Hesse creates to tell of the endurance of Jewish families through history.
Reyna’s story is for all. Adults, surely, and let’s say, students
ages 9 and up, maybe younger, depending upon the family & the school.
The full title is THE STONE LAMP, Eight Stories of Hanukkah Through History.
I feel when you locate it at your library, you will want this collection for your school or home library,
The free verse poems are offset with a page of history, for each period of time reflected.
Because the artist for this project is Brian Pinkney,
you also know that the illustrations are museum quality. If you are
seeking to add one in-depth, beautiful, illustrated resource about
the enduring love of family, and the resilience of a celebration of
freedom of religion against indescribable hardship, this can be it.
Each of eight poem stories, beginning in 1190 at the time of
the Christian war against the Muslims to retake Jerusalem,
and completing the circle with a night after Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1995,
reflects a child’s beloved moment with Family and with
the treasured Hanukkah lamp.
I have become educated in a way I already should have been
by now, from this richly researched and exquisitely illustrated journey among Hanukkah ceremonies that span the centuries.
THE STONE LAMP pulls me in with a similar luminous effect
as I feel from the poems in AMONG ANGELS, by Jane Yolen and
Nancy Willard, (illustrations by S. Saelig Gallagher.)
AMONG ANGELS is not about the Holocaust or Hanukkah; it shares
meditations between friends, one Jewish and one Christian writer
(but O, like Karen Hesse, what masterful writers we know they are) about angels.
This Monday, Dec. 7, the second night of Hanukkah
2015(and also, we know, Pearl Harbor Day), I plan to post a sweet Hanukkah
book-video for young readers.
I’ll also share two other young-reader Hanukkah picture book titles that
I felt fortunate to carry home this week from the library.
It would be nice to have more titles, so if you can recommend Hanukkah picture books,
now or next week, I will want to light a candle to celebrate you!