The Littlest Candlesticks
By Sylvia Rouss and Illustrated by Holly Hannon
Each Shabbat, little Abby gazed at the sight,
Of the Shabbat candles and the beauty of their light.
Her mother’s candlesticks were made of gleaming gold.
They had been her grandmother’s, and were very old.
Her sister Dina’s were made of earth-toned clay.
They had seven colored jewels, one for each day.
Her sister Rachel’s were made of crafted metals.
They had swirly vines and flowers with fine petals.
Abby sighed, “I love Shabbat. I really do!
But Mommy, when can I have candlesticks like you?”
“Abby, just wait ‘til you’re a little older.
You’ll have candlesticks,” her mother gently told her.
The next week, Abby’s teacher showed her preschool class,
Two little candlesticks made of see-through glass.
“These candlesticks, you must carefully handle.
Paint them first and then put in a candle.
Abby took a brush and paint, but what was she to do?
She noticed her friend Gila was painting her glass blue.
She watched Sarah take her brush and paint a thin gold line.
Abby held her glass and thought, “Should I do that to mine?”
Mommy’s golden candlesticks are shiny as can be.
Maybe I’ll paint a golden sun for everyone to see.”
Next, she thought of Dina’s candlesticks, with jewels all in a row.
“Red and blue and green and purple – I’ll paint a bright rainbow!”
She thought of Rachel’s candlesticks, with flowers made of metals.
So, Abby painted yellow daisies with delicate little petals.
Finally, Abby said, “There’s still something I must do.
I will paint one last thing and then I will be through!”
When Abby came home from school, later that same day,
She dashed into her room and hid her candlesticks away.
Abby could hardly wait to see her family’s eyes.
She would wait until Shabbat to show them her surprise.
On Friday, Abby’s family prepared to bring in Shabbat.
Abby’s mother made chicken soup in her covered pot.
Her sister Dina began dusting every room,
While her sister Rachel was sweeping with a broom.
Abby covered the table with a cloth of lace.
Then she picked some flowers and put them in a vase.
Dina came into the room and tweaked Abby’s nose.
“Now it’s time for us to dress in our Shabbat clothes.”
Dina helped Abby dress, while Rachel comber her hair.
Then Abby waited for her dad in his rocking chair.
Mommy said, “Daddy will be home very, very soon.”
Abby nodded happily and hummed a little tune.
Suddenly, she saw her dad standing by the door.
He’d brought home two challahs from the grocery store.
He smiled at her and said, “Hello, Abby dear.
Please go and get your sisters, Shabbat is almost here.”
Abby called her sisters with excitement in their eyes.
The she ran into her room to bring out her surprise.
She came into the dining room, happy as could be.
She held up her candlesticks for everyone to see.
“Look, I painted the sun, daisies, and a rainbow too!
But when I finished painting them, I knew I wasn’t through.”
“So, I painted this small heart because I want to say,
Just how much I love Shabbat. It’s my favorite day!”
Abby placed the little candles in her little candlesticks.
She sang the blessing as her mother helped her light the wicks.
Abby’s sisters and father watched with sheer delight.
They couldn’t help but wonder as they observed the sight…
Was it Abby or her candlesticks that lit up that Shabbat night?
Published in 2002, Publisher’s Weekly wrote the following about “The Littlest Candlesticks”: “On the heels of The Littlest Pair’s winning the 2002 National Jewish Book Award in the picture-book category comes The Littlest Candlesticks…. Couplets describe a girl’s wish for her own Sabbath candlesticks, like her mother and her older sisters (” `Abby, just wait ’til you’re a little older. / You’ll have candlesticks,’ her mother gently told her”). Abby’s patience pays off the next week in preschool…, when each girl receives a pair of “see-through glass” candlesticks to paint.…(The illustrator’s) radiantly colored compositions almost shine with Abby’s family’s warmth.” No longer in print, I am pleased to share “The Littlest Candlesticks” with parents and their children, and with teachers and their students. Sylvia