Alexandra's Scroll: The Story of the First Hanukkah

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9780805063844: Alexandra's Scroll: The Story of the First Hanukkah

A young girl’s account of life in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.

When the hated Syrian-Greek king fills ancient Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods and destroys the Jewish temple, feisty Alexandra takes up reed pen, ink, and sheet of papyrus and turns “scribe.”

In her scroll Alexandra records the everyday happenings of her life, as well as the events of the Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees. When her father joins the resistance against the Greek authorities, Alexandra must leave her friends and the city she loves. The victory of the Maccabees three years later returns the family to Jerusalem—to old friends, new ones and, for Alexandra, a new life.

Place and time are recreated in this story of a girl caught up in the events that led to the rebuilding of the temple, the miracle of oil that burns eight days, and the celebration of the first Hanukkah.

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About the Author:

Miriam Chaikin, a former children’s book editor, is the author of over thirty books for young readers. Her most recent book, Don’t Step on the Sky, is a collection of haiku illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. Ms. Chaikin lives in New York City.

Stephen Fieser is the illustrator of five previous books, including The Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folktale from Algeria, retold by Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush. He and his wife live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

From Booklist:

Gr. 4-6. Chaikin uses the writings of a fictional child, Alexandra, growing up in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago, as device to personalize history and explain the origins of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Alexandra, unique to her time because she could write, describes the turmoil in her beloved city chafing under the harsh rule of Syrian-Greek King Antiochus, "who burned our holy books, killed our people, and put up a Greek altar in . . . our Temple." After being forced to flee with her mother, she continues recording events, including news of the small band of resistance fighters whose amazing victory became part of the rationale for the holiday's creation. A brief episode that makes clear the viciousness of the king's minions is a bit of a surprise in this otherwise lightweight, prettily illustrated historical novel, which relies on the appeal of the narrator rather than plot tension to keep things interesting. More facts about Hanukkah can be found at the back. This certainly isn't a necessary purchase, but it has a certain charm for kids who have some knowledge of the holiday. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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