Hanukkah Celebrated Nightfall Dec. 10 – Dec. 18, 2020
The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol
Arthur A. Levine, Author
Kevin Hawkes, Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 8, 2020
Suitable for ages: 5-8
Themes: Hanukkah, Jewish holidays, Holiday hero, Myths, Immigrant families, Faith and Holiday joy
Opening: “Nate Gadol was a great big spirit who had eyes as shy as golden coins and a smile that was lantern-bright. In answer to people’s prayers, he made things last as long as they needed to.”
Nate Gadol is a generous spirit whose magic can make things last exactly as long as they’re needed, like a tiny bit of oil that must stretch for eight days and nights and a flower that needs to stay fresh long after it should to cheer someone ailing. Perhaps there is a brother and a sister with only one piece of chocolate. Voilà! Nate will turn it into two pieces, or even three. And if a family is short one latke, or one candle — or needs a very long note to end a happy song. Nate is there!
When the Glaser family immigrates to the United States in 1881, their first Hanukkah looks like it will be a meager one. And their neighbors are struggling too, with money scarce and Christmas around the corner. Even Santa’s spirits are running low because people are struggling and having trouble believing. Nate and Santa work behind the scenes together. Luckily, Nate Gadol has enough magic to make this a miraculous holiday for all.
Why I like this book:
Arthur A Levine creates a magical tale in Nate Gadol, “a new larger-than-life holiday hero who brings Hanukkah wonder and magic to all those in need.”
Levine offers a mythical and magical tale about how Jewish families began to give gifts to their children during Hanukkah. This book will appeal to the many families who celebrate blended traditions that include presents, while honoring their faith and many beautiful Jewish traditions.
There is also a beautiful message of sharing between two immigrant families – one Jewish and the other Christian. The Glaser and O’Malley families help each other survive the bitter cold winter of 1881 by sharing food and selling items to purchase medicine for a sick baby. This is a story about families, friendship, faith and joy.
Children will be thrilled with the stunning illustrations. They are bold and magical with each page accented in shimmering gold. If you hold the illustrations just right in the light, you can see the golden gleam in Nate’s eyes. Magic!
Resource: Make you check out Arthur A. Levine’s “Author’s Note,” where he shares his own memories of Hanukkah and gives a lot of insight into why he wrote about the beginnings of a modern-day tradition. This is a wonderful discussion book for all families, no matter your tradition. Make homemade gifts for your family members. Donate to local food and holiday drives.
Arthur A. Levine has been a children’s publishing for more than thirty years. He is the author of many acclaimed picture books, including What a Beautiful Morning and The Very Beary Tooth Fairy. As a children’s book editor, has published may of the most exceptional children’s titles of all time, including the Harry Potter series, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, and Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.
13 thoughts on “The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol by Arthur A. Levine”
This sounds lovely I will share with my rabbi!
Beautifully designed book. Very original.
As someone who was raised Catholic (and is no longer) and then wrote grants for a Jewish nonprofit, I always find it interesting to find the commonalities between religions/faiths. This looks like a beautiful book!
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It is a beautiful book – the photo of the cover, doesn’t do it justice. Gold shimmers throughout and will delight children. I agree with you and see a common thread that runs through all the major religions.
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Nice to see Arthur A. Levine is still churning out the books. I’ve enjoyed a few of his past titles. Love the cover on this one and the story should grab a lot of readers. Thanks for featuring a story I would have missed otherwise.
The cover and illustrations far more visually stunning than I can capture. This book has a meaningful story and it shimmers. I think many children who celebrate blended traditions will love it.
Gonna give it one more try! (4 fails earlier today!): this is one of my staff suggestions for holiday book purchases – I love the rich colors!
The cover I publish doesn’t do the book justice! It is larger than life in size, but the shimmering aura around Nate, in his clothing and the glint of gold in his eyes, will be thrilling for children! You will love this one. You will love it!
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This is very interesting. I am definitely curious. I’ll see if I can find it. Thanks Patricia for the heads up.
It’s a beautifully designed book that has a lovely message. I loved how Levine talks about his childhood as a kid and topping his list as gifts. This book bridges two traditions. And, his rationale is interesting.
This looks like a beautiful book. I will add it to my list! I think it would be a great addition to my library’s holiday collection. Thanks for sharing!
Yes, it would be a wonderful addition to a library holiday collection. My library won’t accept books from the public anymore. Would love to donate my copy.
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