Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles

Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles

By: Tami Lehman-Wilzig and Nicole Katzman
Illustrated by: Jeremy Tugeau
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-7613-6657-7
Reviewed by: June Maffin
Review Date: November 2011

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.

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