Hawkes uses richly textured acrylic paints and eye-popping swirls of gold to create illustrations that are at once grounded and otherworldly…A new, entertaining, and thoughtful addition to the Hanukkah canon.
The giant spirit Nate Gadol is larger than life in every sense of the word; his last name even means big! His name is also a playful take on the phrase associated with the Hanukkah spinning top, or dreidel…readers will be charmed by the book’s mythological feeling, which is enhanced by Hawkes’ painterly illustrations.
Hanukkah isn’t Jewish Christmas, so why do some American Jewish kids get presents for the holiday? Levine answers by creating a new mythic character, “great big spirit” Nate Gadol, whose name recalls the first half of the sentence symbolized by the letters on the dreidel: nes gadol hayah sham (“a great miracle happened there”). Drawn by Hawkes as radiantly dashing in a Revolutionary War–era waistcoat, Nate has a special talent: as an answer to prayer, “He made things last as long as they needed to.” … this visually stunning “supplementary mythology,” as Levine writes in an author’s note, seeks to “enhance our experience without changing the religious observance and meaning of Jewish holidays.”
Mr. Hawkes’s pictures for this inviting tale have sweep and warmth, with rich coloring and touches of gold that give even scenes of chilly privation a sumptuous appearance. In an afterword, Mr. Levine writes of his desire to expand the ‘wonderful supplementary mythology’ of stories connected with the celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah. It is an ambition achieved in this delightful book.
—The Wall Street Journal