Parents' Guide to

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Exquisite Hanukkah story has universal blessings theme.

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This exquisitely told story is set in 1938 when young Oskar arrives in New York to escape the Nazis and meets people who help him in unexpected and moving ways. The story is Jewish, with references to lighting the menorah and humming a "nigundl," but it's also ecumenical: That year, Hanukkah coincided with Christmas, so the newsstand man wishes Oskar "Merry Christmas," and he's entranced by holiday shop windows. The artful writing and deft handling make the story and the blessings theme universal.

Illustrator Mark Siegel, well known for his work in graphic novels, uses panels to illustrate the legs of the journey, and his art is as moving as the text, as when a good fairy in a shop window is reflected in Oskar's eyes. A plus for New Yorkers is the detailed depiction of the city and its neighborhoods. This book is a history lesson, holiday story, and spiritual reminder rolled into one beautiful "blessing" -- a book to take to heart and treasure.

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