cover image The Ugly Menorah

The Ugly Menorah

Marissa Moss. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-38027-4

This wan effort uses the holiday setting to drive home familiar lessons from the beauty-is-in-the-eyes-of-the-beholder school. Spending Hanukkah with her recently widowed grandmother, Rachel thinks her grandmother's menorah is ugly, even after she is told how her grandfather lovingly fashioned it from scraps years ago when he could not afford to buy a fancy one. But after it's lit, Rachel has an (unconvincing) epiphany: ""For the first time since Grandpa died, she felt he was with her again."" As if to underscore the point about appearances, Moss's illustrations are almost aggressively plain, with stiff, almost gauche figures peopling ill-lit settings. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)