A camel, a train mishap and the holiday of Hanukkah bring together a Bedouin and a Jew in acts of kindness and camaraderie.
Eager to celebrate with friends in Jaffa, Ari balances an armload of sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), dreidels, menorah, bottle of oil and the bag of Turkish coins as he rushes to the train he will drive to Jerusalem. On his way are several children playacting the story of the holiday, providing a tiny summary for readers, a device that is repeated throughout. Finally aboard and daydreaming a bit, Ari derails the caboose of his train when forced to make a sudden stop to avoid a camel sitting on the tracks. Rescue comes with the stubborn camel's owner, a Bedouin named Kalil ("friend" in Arabic), who sends for help while Ari graciously accepts Kalil's hospitality. "Your camel may be stubborn, but I was not careful." The observance of the first night of Hanukkah, coincidentally on the site of Modi'in, the ancient home of the Maccabees, is shared; Ari lights candles, sings blessings and teaches Kalil to play dreidel, and together they enjoy coffee with the sufganiyot. The late-19th-century atmosphere of the story is conveyed with gentle cartoons that move horizontally with the flow of a traveling train.
This addition to the series moves beyond the holiday with its implied message of friendship, cooperation and mutual respect for separate cultures sharing one homeland.
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