Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles

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Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Kar-Ben Publishing (R)
Publish Date
10.02 X 10.06 X 0.34 inches | 0.92 pounds

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About the Author

Born in the United States, Tami Lehman-Wilzig now lives in Israel. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and an M.A. in Communications from Boston University. She is one of Israel's leading English language copywriters. Her children's books include Tasty Bible Stories, Keeping the Promise, Passover Around the World, Hanukkah Around the World and Zvuvi's Israel. She lives in Kfar Saba, Israel.

Jeremy Tugeau is the illustrator of dozens of children's books, including Who Were the Beatles and The Buddy Files series. He earned his master's degree in art education from Case Western Reserve University and currently teaches high school art in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives with his wife and three children in a 100-year-old house on a hill.


Jacob loves Hanukkah, but is frustrated with the way it's celebrated at his house. His brother Nathan, a boy on the autism spectrum, obsesses about the holiday and ruins the night by blowing out the candles as if they were on a birthday cake. When a new friend, Steven, moves into the neighborhood, Jacob is happy to have someone to play with but Steven is not tolerant of Nathan's differences. When Steven and Jacob try to spin dreidls, Nathan fixates on the whirling motion and Steven proclaims Nathan 'weird, ' and Jacob must deal with the conflicts and embarrassment felt by many siblings of kids with special needs. This is an important book on many levels. Not only does it address how family's deal with a child's differences in the home, but it validates Jacob's exasperation of making allowances for Nathan. Jacob is not chastised or told that his emotions are wrong, but his parents do expect him to be understanding which is hard for any youngster. When Jacob prays for a Hanukkah miracle that Nathan could be like other kids, we learn how deeply sensitive he is to the situation. Jacob tries to explain Nathan's 'faulty wiring' to Steven, but Steven isn't an automatic convert. Only Jacob's construction of an edible menorah, 'Nathan-style, ' convinces Steven that different is sometimes okay. This Hanukkah book has heart and an important message, both for families that share the experience of raising a child with autism and those who wish they could make their children kinder to children with disabilities.--Children's Literature Comprehensive Database

-- "Website"

The traditional family Hanukkah celebration is here adjusted to include an autistic boy's interpretation.

Jacob's brother, Nathan, can be quite vexing, especially when he repeats himself constantly. Jacob's mother has explained that Nathan's 'mind is wired differently' and that he 'just looks at things in his own way.' On the first two nights of Hanukkah, Jacob is excited to welcome new neighbors Steven and parents to their candle-lighting ceremony. He quickly regrets it when, to his acute embarrassment, Nathan blows out the candles despite being told they are not like birthday ones. Playing dreidel also proves to be less than enjoyable when Nathan fixates on the spinning and ignores the rest of the game. Yet when confronted by Steven--'your brother is weird'--Jacob counters with the defiant response that Nathan's autistic (not, as Steven mishears, 'artistic') behavior helps his family see the world just a bit differently. Softly outlined illustrations offer snapshot views of family gatherings while also capturing emotional expressions of surprise, chagrin and enjoyment, as reflected in the arc of the story line. A creative final scene encompasses both the traditional menorah lighting as well as a birthdaylike candle celebration atop a tray of jelly doughnuts.

This inclusive holiday story offers a realistic perspective on one family's ability to embrace an autistic individual with respect and compassion. --Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal"

Siblings - at times we love them; at times we can't stand them. Jacob's older brother, Nathan, often irritated him. Nathan constantly repeated words: 'Is it Hanukkah? Is it Hanukkah?' 'Tonight is Hanukkah.' 'Tonight is Hanukkah.' Nathan's actions were confusing. And Nathan's incessant chatter caused other children to ridicule him embarrassing Jacob. Jacob's mother tried to explain to him that Nathan's brain was 'wired differently' but as much as Jacob tried to understand, it was difficult.

And on the first night of Hanukkah, it was very difficult to understand. The first candle of Hanukkah was to be lit and Nathan, Jacob and their parents gathered around the menorah. Jacob and Nathan's father used the shamash to light the candle, then the blessings and 'Ma/oz Tzur' were sung. They were just about to eat the fresh jelly donuts when Nathan blew out the candle! It was supposed to remain lit throughout the full eight nights of Hanukkah. But Nathan didn't understand that. He saw a lit candle and thought it was a birthday candle and so he blew it out. Nathan was autistic and didn't understand the way his younger brother and parents understood.

The next day, a new family moved in next door and that evening, as Jacob and his family were about to light the second candle of Hanukkah, the doorbell rang. It was their new neighbours. Jacob's mom invited them to join in the Hanukkah celebrations and lighting of the second candle. Jacob was worried. Would Nathan blow out the candle again?

Quill says: Lessons come in many guises and this charming book gently and lovingly introduces readers and their parents to autism and the family issues it can raise. --Feathered Quill

-- "Website"

Jacob narrates the story of his family's holiday celebration as his autistic older brother blows out the candles on the menorah. Nathan displays other behaviors associated with autism such as repeating himself and staring intently at a spinning dreidel. Jacob finds him annoying, and happily escapes in to a friendship with the new boy next door, yet when Steven makes fun of Nathan's penchant for blowing out candles, both families come together to craft a satisfying solution. The well-constructed text rings true, particularly when describing the parents' efforts to help their son focus on the festivities. Watercolor and charcoal illustrations nicely convey both Jacob's mixed emotions and his family's obvious love. Shining a light on an experience shared by many contemporary families, this book is a worthy addition for all collections. --School Library Journal

-- "Journal"

"Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles, by Tami-Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau (Karben: $7.95), offers a different take on a Chanukah story, dedicated to those 'who have learned to cope with and embrace children with special needs.' Designed to introduce young children to autism and other developmental disorders, the story is based on co-author Nicole Katzman's son Nathan, a high-functioning autistic child whose brain is 'wired differently, ' and who used to enjoy blowing out the family's Chanukah candles. It is the first night of Chanukah when Jacob, who has an autistic brother named Nathan, notices that a new family with a boy his age has moved in across the street. Nathan's behavior, such as blowing out the candles and staring nonstop at spinning dreidels, embarrasses his brother in front of his new playmate, who calls Nathan 'weird, ' until the two families come up with a creative solution to allow Nathan to be himself and everyone to enjoy the celebrations. The authors use the story to reinforce two important messages of Judaism: "acceptance of every person as a reflection of God's image, and the importance of both compassion and inclusion into the community." --Jewish Journal

-- "Magazine"

Based on a true story, Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles by Tami Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau is a truly beautiful way of introducing young children ages 5 to 9 to a family with a special needs child.

The story is told by Jacob, whose older brother Nathan is autistic--'Nathan's mind is wired differently, ' says Jacob, with both the understanding and exasperation of a younger brother.

It's Hanukkah, and each night the family lights the candles in their menorah, and each night, Nathan blows them out.

How his family, together with their new neighbors, turn that into an unusual eighth night of Hanukkah, where respect, acceptance and acknowledgement replace any embarrassment, criticism or anger, will move an adult reading to a young child.

This gentle story is instructive without being heavy-handed, told with a natural style that rings true. It is an excellent introduction to a child with any type of special needs, whether as a sibling or a member of another family.--Chicago Jewish Star

-- "Newspaper"

Jacob's older brother, Nathan, celebrates the lighting of the menorah in his own unique way, as he does everything else, by blowing out the candles as soon as they are lit. Nathan exhibits behavior that we associate with autism, but Jacob just finds it annoying. He is thrilled when a new boy moves in next door that he can play with, until his new friend makes fun of Nathan's behavior and calls him weird. His new friend, Steven, is just not nice when faced with Nathan's behavior. Relationships between the boys are strained, until the parents, patient with this special child and described as being extremely sensitive, plan a solution that works well and is satisfying to everyone's needs, both acknowledging Nathan's uniqueness and celebrating the holiday together in a special way. There is a realistic description of Jacob working through his conflicting emotions about his brother while attempting to fit his new friend into his life. There is also a lot of love in this book, written by an author who has written many children's books of Jewish interest. Lovely watercolor illustrations add to the story. The description of life with an autistic child in the family makes the book's message universal and not limited to Jewish collections, but it is certainly worthwhile for any Judaica library. Based on a real child, a real 'Nathan, ' this tale can provide a wonderful way to introduce autism and indeed any kind of special children to young children and their families. It will allow both parents and teachers to trigger discussion of special children, as well. --Association of Jewish Libraries

-- "Magazine"

Jacob's brother, Nathan, is autistic. Sometimes his repetition of phrases drives Jacob crazy, but Jacob's mother explains that Nathan's brain is just wired differently. A new boy moves in next door, and Jacob is happy to have a friend to play basketball with him. Jacob's mother invites his new friend, Steven, for the first night of Hanukkah, but Jacob is mortified when Nathan blows out the Hanukkah candles. Every day, when Steven sees Jacob, Steven teases Jacob by pretending to blow out candles. On the last night of Hanukkah, Jacob's mother invites Steven and his family to celebrate Hanukkah Nathan's way. After lighting the menorah in the window, everyone is given a jelly doughnut with a candle in it and they all blow out their candles.

The story is based on a real 'Nathan, ' a high-functioning autistic child. The book is designed to introduce young children and families to autism and other developmental disorders. It helps reinforce the Jewish teaching of acceptance of every person as having been created in God's image. The illustrations are colorful and portray the characters' feelings in a sensitive manner.--Jewish Book World

-- "Magazine"

Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles (ages 5-9) is, refreshingly, more about life than about Hanukkah. There is mention of various aspects of the holiday, but it is really about the relationship between the narrator, Jacob, and his autistic brother, Nathan. Jacob worries that Nathan will embarrass him in front of a new friend, and Nathan indeed does so by blowing out the candles in the menorah, something not part of the Hanukkah ritual. Blowing out the candles is then made into a new tradition. My favorite part is that the story is based on a real Nathan, the child of one of the authors, who did indeed blow the Hanukkah candles out. The creation of new traditions should be particularly appropriate for interfaith families, and the theme of accepting everyone is always welcome. --Interfaith Family

-- "Website"