When you go outside to play, there are all kinds of things to see.
Interesting things like bugs, leaves and plants. Maybe trucks and cars, birds and people, construction and rocks. You might notice animals or other kids’ toys.
There are all kinds of things to see when you go outside to play, but you might need to be careful. In the new book “Hanukkah in Alaska ” by Barbara Brown, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, there’s danger outside — and it’s on four big feet!
When you live in Alaska, you have to look left and right when you step outside the door. You have to look all around to make sure there are no moose in your yard.
Moose are huge! They have big antlers and humongous feet that can leave a gigantic dent in a car. Even grown-ups are cautious when moose are around. Children are taught to hug a tree if they see a moose because “moose can’t step on you or knock you over if you’re hugging a tree.”
But that’s not all you need to watch out for, when you live in Alaska.
In winter, it stays dark for an awfully long time — nearly all day — which makes it difficult to see outside. Also, the snow piles up very high. That makes it hard to get around. Even the moose look for an easy trail.
And that’s how a moose came to live in one girl’s backyard.
The little girl wasn’t happy about it, either. Moose can get stuck where they shouldn’t be, and the girl was concerned about her swing. She saw a moose once that got his antlers caught in someone else’s swing and he tore it all apart.
So every night of Hanukkah, as she lit the menorah, the girl peeked outside to see if the moose was still there.
He was, of course.
One day, the little girl’s father told her to bundle up. There was something special outside that she had to see — and the surprise was very beautiful, but she still noticed that those great big antlers were awfully close to her swing.
And then the little girl had an idea. Maybe there was a way to move a moose because “miracles can happen.”
As much as I loved “Hanukkah in Alaska,” and as cute as I thought it absolutely was, I couldn’t help but note that its Hanukkah ties are shaky. With a few small changes, Brown’s story could be a Christmas book. Or a Thanksgiving book. Or, well, pretty much any holiday.
That, however, doesn’t diminish the cuteness here. Brown’s story oozes with warmth and tradition despite the shakiness, and I fell in love with Schuett’s moose. That sweet moose face may be a big part of the appeal of this book; his menorah-like antlers can’t hurt.
If your kids need something new to read every Hanukkah, then stop your search right here. For family or for fun, “Hanukkah in Alaska” is a book your 3- to 6-year-old will want to see.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.