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THE FRIDAY NIGHTS OF NANA

Amy Hest, Author, Claire A. Nivola, Illustrator
Amy Hest, Author, Claire A. Nivola, Illustrator , illus. by Claire A. Nivola. Candlewick $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-0658-9
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Set a few generations ago, this graceful evocation of a family Sabbath dinner radiates all the tenderness of Hest's (the Baby Duck books; Kiss Good Night, Children's Forecasts, Aug. 6) best work. Jennie, the narrator, is spending the day with Nana (" 'Today I have no school!' I sing. 'Lucky me!' 'Today you have no school!' she answers. 'Lucky ME!' "). They prepare Nana's already clean and airily inviting house, do the shopping and cooking, and welcome the extended family. Hest emphasizes the intimacies of tradition rather than faith. Nana, for example, "is lighting candles and our dresses are touching and she is whispering Sabbath prayers and no one makes a peep"; the prayers themselves are not part of the story, nor is the symbolism of the candles. Nivola's (The Mouse of Amherst) lapidary, intently focused watercolors stand out for their exquisitely balanced colors. She has a gift for creating harmony out of a profusion of crisp patterns; despite the many elements, the overall mood is one of peace and deep contentment. A quiet gem. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)

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