cover image The Very Best Hanukkah Gift

The Very Best Hanukkah Gift

Joanne Rocklin. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32656-8

The high color of Rocklin's Strudel Stories is all washed out in this hokey middle-grade novel. Eight-year-old Daniel`s family celebrates Hanukkah with a zest that comes off as cornball: he and his older brother labor mightily to write a Hanukkah poem to recite at the family party; Daniel communes with a Maccabee in his dreams. The boy's fear of dogs--which he overcomes, in order to let his little sister get a puppy--doesn't make him seem so much vulnerable as namby-pamby. See Amy Goldman Koss's 1998 How I Saved Hanukkah for a middle-grade novel that treats holiday observance with wit and backbone. Ages 7-11. (Oct.)