Cover image for The stone lamp : eight stories of Hanukkah through history
The stone lamp : eight stories of Hanukkah through history
Hesse, Karen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, [2003]

Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A collection of eight poems, each taking place on a different night of Hanukkah and following the history of Jews from twelfth-century England to twentieth-century Israel.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.6 1.0 82342.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.E797867 S76 2003 Juvenile Current Holiday Item Childrens Area-Holiday
PS3558.E797867 S76 2003 Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PS3558.E797867 S76 2003 Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

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Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. The story of Hanukkah is one of a triumph of light over darkness, of the small miracles that give hope to an entire people. In a series of eight powerful and evocative poems, award-winning author Karen Hesse captures the resilient spirit of the Jewish people through the voices of eight children at Hanukkah. The children - from Tamara in 12th century England and Jeremie in 13th century France to Havva in 17th century Turkey and Ori in 20th century Israel - are united by love, family, and their cherished stone lamp. Ages 9 and up.

Author Notes

Karen Hesse (born on August 29, 1952 Baltimore, Maryland) is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults. She studied theatre at Towson State College, and finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland in English, Psychology, and Anthropology. In 1998 she won the Newbery Medal for her young adult novel, Out of the Dust.

Hesse lives in Vermont with her husband and two teen-aged daughters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. Sometimes, a flame can be utterly extinguished. / Sometimes, a flame can shrink and waver, but / sometimes a flame refuses to go out . . . So burns the Light of the Jewish people. Mixing soul-searing facts with imagined voices, and using a stone lamp as a link between events and the people who lived them, Hesse captures the tragedies and hopes of the Jews. Each night of Hanukkah, a light is lit. Here, each light commemorates a sad event--the Crusades, the Inquisition, the appearance of the False Messiah, the pogroms, the assassination of Rabin--which is described on a full-page and framed with words from the Bible. Then, Hesse personalizes those happenings by writing movingly in free verse from the standpoint of a child who has lived the disappointment, the discrimination, and the hatred emanating from the experience. A child during the Russian pogrom of 1883 nurses her brutally beaten father and watches as her brother slips away to join a revolution. In Austria, after Kristallnacht, a boy unmakes his little sister's snowman, knowing that even small joy is forbidden to Jews. If it is sometimes hard to find the hope in the poignant words, Pinkney's paintings are more optimistic. Even when the faces are sad, the glow from the stars, moonlight, and the candles of the stone lamp somehow belie the world's cruelty. Find out more about this illuminating work in the Story behind the Story on the opposite page. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Highlighting eight moments of crisis for the Jewish people in almost as many different centuries, this soul-searching, handsomely produced book is clearly important. It is not, however, festive. Newbery Medalist Hesse (Out of the Dust) imagines a child speaker for each of eight poems, one for each night of the celebration. For example, Tamara, in 1190 York, weeps as she chops onions and remembers her father, recently slain by mobs, then triumphs over despair (holding her baby brother, she says, "Though we have lost much/ yet this much remains"). Paired with each poem is text explaining each tragic episode, from the Inquisition to Kristallnacht; a tag after each poem limns each fictional speaker's fate. Pinkney (Alvin Ailey) supplies some of his most striking work to date, capturing the luminosity of the holiday not just through the lights of candles or starry skies, but in the natural radiance of his characters. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Hesse takes eight crucial, painful periods in Jewish history and, for each one, shines a light on one child's thoughts during Hanukkah. A brief explanation of the timeframe, from the Crusades to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, is followed by free-verse poems written in the first person, offering a child's viewpoint. In 1665, for instance, a 16-year-old Jewish girl in Turkey lifts her voice in song with her neighbors on Hanukkah after the man they had been planning to follow to the Holy Land turned out to be a false Messiah. Some of these episodes are well known, some are not, but all are intriguing, and the personal perspective of each young narrator adds special resonance to the meaning of Hanukkah. The rich paintings, full of warmth and light, complement the text without overwhelming it. A unique and moving book that should be shared year-round.-E. M. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.