Review: Winter Candle by Jeron Frame

winter candle

Winter Candle by Jeron Frame, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

The residents of the apartment building at Juniper Court celebrate a variety of holidays in the winter months.  It begins with Nana Clover at Thanksgiving who somehow forgot to get candles for her Thanksgiving table.  The building super finds her a lumpy candle and she uses it for her centerpiece.  Two weeks later, the Danziger family needs a havdalah candle for Sabbath.  Nana Clover gives them the lumpy candle she used.  A few days later, Kirsten needs one more candle for her Saint Lucia crown.  In winter, Donte’s little brother has chewed up one of the Kwanza candles.  Later in the winter, a new family has moved into the apartment building.  While they are waiting for their father to come back, the power goes out.  Guess which little candle helps light their night along with that of all the residents!

Filled with a strong sense of community and diversity, this picture book is about more than a litany of different traditions.  Using the small lumpy candle as a symbol, the book speaks to the power of shared moments as a family, the importance of a larger and supportive community, and the beauty of differences.  In each case, the candle is not what the family is looking for.  It’s the wrong color, the wrong shape, and the wrong size.  But it also works in all of its lack of perfection.  The writing in the book is weaves the various stories together, moving the candle from family to family and creating strong bonds.

The illustrations have a traditional feel.  They capture the power and beauty of the candle light as it shines in each family’s apartment.  In the final story, that light leads the father back home and thanks to the illustrations we believe that its power is more than one candle, more than the darkness, and as strong as the community around it.

Ideal for celebrating winter holidays in a way that is not Christmas centered, this picture book is a welcome addition to library shelves.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2014

Best of 2014

As promised, Kirkus released their list of the top teen books of the year yesterday.  Many of my favorites made the list, and there are so many here that I haven’t managed to read yet.  Wow!  Anyone see any of their favorites that I simply must read before the end of the year?  Silly to ask with the size of “To Be Read” pile that I already have!