On the third day of Christmas, my true love read to me…this Chrismukkah* classic!
This is just as much a Hanukkah book as a Christmas book. In fact what I love the most about this story, is how it celebrates both faiths. Elijah is a local barber with a gift for carving. Michael loves spending time at Elijah’s barbershop, watching him carve, and doing some whittling of his own. He wants nothing more than to save up and buy one of Elijah’s carved animals, but when Elijah gives him an angel carved especially for him, Michael doesn’t know what to do. What is a Jewish boy supposed to do with a graven image of a Christian angel?
Author Michael J. Rosen has created a beautiful story about friendship, regardless of differences in age, ethnicity, or religion. If there was ever a single story that encapsulates ‘peace on earth,’ this book is it. Rosen’s language is rounded and soft and his story is sensitively told. Michael’s anxiety about not wanting to anger God but also not wanting to hurt Elijah’s feelings is believable and touchingly rendered. Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s paintings are richly coloured and full of warmth.
And if all that isn’t enough for you, the character of Elijah in the book is based on a real man, Elijah Pierce (1892-1948), who was a friend and mentor to both author and illustrator. Robinson and Rosen have created a beautiful gift to honour a dear friend. Children will love knowing that the story is rooted in reality, which makes the story even more toucing.
*Wikipedia assures me that this is a term real people use, not just characters from the now defunct TV show The O.C.