One Candle by Eve Bunting is another successful Holocaust book for young children. The illustrations by K. Wendy Popp are stunning. They are in light brown tones with some color added for life in the present, with family sitting around the dinner table on the first night of Hanukkah. As grandmother remembers one Hanukkah when she and her sister Rose were prisoners in Buchenwald, the illustrations lose their color and are muted. But the story grandmother tells at the Hanukkah table is beautiful.
With the help of her sister, Rose, grandmother stole a potato and some butter from the kitchen in Buchenwald. This was very brave for a small twelve year old girl. This was not for them to eat, although they did eat the parts of the potatoe which were removed from the core to make room for the butter. With a string from a skirt, a wick was made and grandmother, Rose and six other Jewish women had one candle for Hanukkah.
Each year grandmother and Rose recreate this moment with thier family. Retelling this story gives then some peace and hope. When one of the children asks why the young women took the risk, grandmother says,
That Hanukkah candle lifted us. It lifted us to the stars. In our minds, sweetheart. In our hearts.
In the end, grandmother, Rose and all of their family toast L'chayim - To life! And each year, they are all lifted to the stars. It is the tradition of remembering triumph over evil that raises us up. And sharing these moments with family is at the heart of every celebration.
A wonderful lesson plan for using this book with 6th graders can be located here, a University of Michigan site and written by a student. If this link becomes broken, please let me know as I am saving a copy. Also, since the book centers on Hanukkah, I found the Teacher Guide to Hanukkah very informative with a number of lesson plans which could also be used with this book.TITLE: One Candle
AUTHOR: Eve Bunting
ILLUSTRATOR: K. Wendy Popp
RECOMMEND: I love how the family honors a tradition to show courage and hope. The illustrations are also very nice.