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Night Lights: A Sukkot Story

Amberin Huq
Daniel's big sister is excited to sleep outside in the family's sukkah, but he is a little nervous. She explains how to be brave, like their Jewish ancestors when they slept in desert huts during the festival of Sukkot.
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A child s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister s comforting, natural solution. --Kirkus Reviews

A retelling a much-loved story, complete with new illustrations.

His big sister Naomi is excited to sleep outside in the sukkah, but Daniel himself is a little nervous.

What about the dark nighttime shadows? What about the scary nighttime sounds? 

Naomi tells him to be brave, like their ancestors were when they slept in huts in the desert . . . but that's hard!



On the first night of Sukkot, Daniel is apprehensive about sleeping in the dark sukkah without a night light.

Older sister Naomi likes to show off her knowledge acquired in Hebrew school, so she tells Daniel all about the holiday. She explains how Jews remember the ancestors journey from Egypt, why the sukkah is built, and the reason for an open roof made of tree branches.

Once the building and decorating of their sukkah is finished, Daniel s quiet anxiety parallels Naomi s eager excitement through the family s outdoor dinner. At bedtime, the siblings create a makeshift sleeping area in a corner of the sukkah. In the dark, scary nighttime noises and shadowy images disturb Daniel to the point where he begins to go inside. But to his surprise, Naomi, who has a touch of the heebie-jeebies herself, encourages him to stay and look up through the branches of the sukkah s open roof. He sees a sky full of stars, or night lights, as they glowed for the ancestors thousands of years ago.

Soft paintings provide a contemporary view of a White Jewish family with some parallel historical scenes of the forbearers making their way through the desert.

The interwoven explanation of the holiday within the context of the story is enhanced with an afterword that references today s refugees, who must live under precarious circumstances in temporary shelters.

A child s fear is sweetly tempered by the support of an older sister s comforting, natural solution. (Picture book. 5-7)

--Kirkus Reviews


Daniel, his old­er sis­ter Nao­mi, and their par­ents pre­pare for Sukkot by build­ing a sukkah in their back­yard.

As they dec­o­rate, Daniel learns about the hol­i­day. Nao­mi explains that in the sukkah ​We’re sup­posed to see the sky through the roof.” Just like their ances­tors, who slept in huts after escap­ing Egypt, Daniel and Nao­mi will spend the night in their sukkah. They are usu­al­ly joined by Grand­pa but this year he is sick with a cold so the kids are on their own. Daniel is hes­i­tant, recall­ing the ​scary nois­es” he heard last year. It doesn’t help that Nao­mi teas­es him about being afraid of the dark. She tells Daniel that he won’t be able to bring his night light into the sukkah because there won’t be a way to plug it in. ​Do you think our ances­tors had night lights…?” she asks. Fol­low­ing a fes­tive din­ner, it’s time for bed but Daniel can’t fall asleep. The sukkah feels dark and cold; it’s a far cry from the cheer­ful place it was ear­li­er that evening. Daniel is fear­ful of the howl­ing wind and the loud ani­mal sounds he hears. He is also fright­ened when scary faces appear to be form­ing on the dec­o­ra­tive squash­es. Ted­dy bear in tow, Daniel decides it is ​Too hard being an ances­tor” and wants to go back inside the house. How­ev­er, Nao­mi asks him to stay admit­ting that she too is feel­ing a bit spooked. Togeth­er, the sib­lings look up to the sky. As the spark­ing stars peek through the roof of the sukkah, Nao­mi real­izes that maybe the ances­tors did have night lights after all. Daniel rec­og­nizes that, like him, maybe ​Our ances­tors were brave, and a lit­tle scared, too.” Final­ly, the kids fall asleep.

The illus­tra­tions clev­er­ly depict the cur­rent hap­pen­ings in the sto­ry, includ­ing sub­text like the sukkah’s tra­di­tion­al dec­o­ra­tions of hang­ing fruits and paper chains. Some pages fea­ture illus­tra­tions of the ances­tors on their jour­ney; those are in more mut­ed tones. Also shown are ele­ments of Daniel’s imag­i­na­tion includ­ing the faces he ​sees” on the squash­es and the men­ac­ing shapes in the shadows.

The book also includes a brief but thought­ful after­word implor­ing young read­ers to think about safe­ty and shel­ter and how it relates to the hol­i­day. The author offers insights into the sig­nif­i­cance of Sukkot pro­vid­ing a lens which mir­rors some mod­ern day child­hood expe­ri­ences. Young read­ers will enjoy the charm­ing char­ac­ters and relat­able fam­i­ly dynam­ics, espe­cial­ly between the sib­lings. Night Lights: A Sukkot Sto­ry is a time­less choice.

-- Jillian Bietz, The Jewish Book Council


Barbara Diamond Goldin is the recipient of the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. This award is presented to the author whose collected works are a distinguished contribution to Jewish literature for children. "Goldin's consistently commendable and recommendable books combine talented writing, solid research, personal commitment and deep caring". Barbara has written many award-winning books on Jewish themes, including A Persian Princess, The Passover Cowboy, and Meet Me at the Well: The Girls and Women of the Bible. Barbara is the director of a public library and lives in western Massachusetts.


Amberin Huq works with many different kinds of clients, including publishers, children's theaters, and magazines, creating work for children of all ages. Amberin lives and works just outside London.

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