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by Naomi Danis

Girls Make Holidays Their Own

In Rivka ‘s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael, illustrated by Maryann Kovalski (McElderry Books, $ 16), Rivka persuades a beit din (rabbinical court) that it is okay for Jews to celebrate this American holiday. In How I Saved Hanukkah by Amy Goldman Koss (Dial Books for Young Readers, $15.99), Maria Feinstein is the only Jewish kid in her fourth grade class. When her best friend, steeped in Christmas tradition, stays over at her house, Maria takes charge of dreidl-playing, latke-making, and even hora-dancing, drawing in her assimilated and not very enthusiastic family and transforming their traditions. A Mountain of Blintzes by Barbara Diamond Goldin illustrated by Anik McGrory, (Harcourt, $16), evokes the “stone soup” folk motif where the children save the day in a Catskill Mountain family struggling to have enough food on Shavuot. In Daughters of Fire: Heroines of the Bible illustrated by Uri Shulevitz (Harcourt, $20), Fran Manushkin gives us fresh and original retellings rich with seamlessly woven midrashic threads. Here are more than a dozen human and heroic role models from Eve to Esther. Finally, Susan Goldman Rubin’s Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin (Holiday House, $18.95), a biography/history/art book. It embodies the inspiring legacy that even in the most dire circumstances art—as the opportunity to apprehend beauty and to create it—makes a difference.

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