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Winter Candle

Winter Candle

When each family at the diverse Juniper Court apartment complex needs something to light up the dark of winter, the stumpy, lumpy candle provides a glow brighter than the fanciest taper, revealing the true spirit of each holiday it illuminates.

Author: Jeron Ashford   Illustrator: Stacey Schuett

Price: $16.95

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A "lumpy stick of wax" lights the way in this story of diverse celebrations held at an apartment house on Juniper Court. While it is neither tall, twisted, or the right color, the unassuming candle manages to save the day for Nana's Thanksgiving meal, the Danzigers's Sabbath two weeks later, one family's St. Lucia observance, and another's Kwanzaa, before finally guiding a new tenant home during a raging snowstorm.

The friendly neighbors help one another without hesitation and come together at the end for a combined celebration lit by the same gnarled but brightly shining candle. An author's end note briefly explains the different ceremonies and celebrations and the role candlelight plays in them.

Full-color illustrations highlight the candle and the cheery glow it throws infuse the scenes with warmth. Facial expressions, from dismay to delight, enhance the story. Certainly appropriate at holiday time, this book also emphasizes the everyday concepts of community, kindness, and sharing, making it a worthwhile, year-round read. - School Library Journal

Ages 5 - 8

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"Light symbolizes hope, and festivals incorporating light and candles are found in many cultures, especially during winter.Ashford uses a single candle to weave a story of intergenerational and multicultural friendship. On Thanksgiving, Nana Clover realizes that she doesn't have a candle for her table and asks the super for one. Later, another family doesn't have a special braided havdalah candle to mark the Jewish Sabbath's end and borrows the half-used candle from Nana Clover. A few days later, the Ericksons find that one of the candles on their Saint Lucia crown is broken. They ask the Danzigers, and the same little candle continues its trip. The African-American family in 5A celebrating Kwanzaa needs the candle next, because the baby has eaten one of the seven candles for the kinara. Finally, a winter storm causes a power outage, and Nasreen and Faruq, who have just moved in, are concerned that their father won't find the building. Their mom suggests borrowing a candle from their neighbors, and the stubby piece of wax lights their father's way. Soon, all the neighbors join in to welcome the new family. The richly textured paintings highlight the glow of the small candle; the family portraits, too, glow with warmth. An author's note provides a brief overv iew of each celebration. The story's acknowledged tidiness facilitates its reassuring theme of neighborly sharing and assistance and makes it easily adaptable to a wide variety of settings." --Kirkus Reviews

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