Hanukkah Upside Down

Abrams. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419762963.
PreS-Gr 2–This clever offering tells the story of two cousins on opposite sides of the world celebrating Hanukkah together and apart. Noah lives in New York, his cousin Nora lives in New Zealand, and they love to argue about which of them is upside down. They decide to have a photo contest about which Hanukkah is better. The story follows them as they do parallel but opposite things, yet celebrate the nights of Hanukkah in similar ways. Finally, each receives a present from the other: a shirt with “World’s Best Cousin” printed upside down. The text and pictures weave together neatly. Using spot art, they each do something location appropriate (Noah has hot chocolate, Nora has hot chips), and then, integrated into the same spread, the same Hanukkah-related thing (eating sufganiyot). Appealing and accessible text is clear and deft, with nary a wasted word. The art is wonderful. Characters have shaggy hair and a Quentin Blake feel to them. The protagonists have light skin; Nora’s father’s has brown skin. Hoffmann fills the pages with movement, masterfully depicting the scenes with Noah and Nora doing the same thing by simply splitting pages in half so that they merge into each other, while using a cool palette for New York and a warm one for New Zealand. While the Hanukkah story is not explained, all the traditions are included.
VERDICT Any library looking for Hanukkah books will want to add this unique international tale to their collection.

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