Feb 9, 2019
"The Dreidel that Wouldn't Spin" is a delightful new children's book celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The book is about the commercialization of the holiday which, falling at around the same time as Christmas, tends to become an occasion for spending a great deal of money on presents.
The little story and accompanying illustrations have a nostalgic old country feel. An owner of a small toy store buys an elaborate and unusual dreidel from a wandering peddler hoping to turn a large profit. The shopkeeper displays the dreidel prominently in his window and sells it to two different wealthy parents and their spoiled children. But the dreidel doesn't spin and the item is irately returned. Then a poor man and his son apologetically enter the shop just to look and enjoy the lovely merchandise. The shopkeeper is touched by the response of the little boy: "Here was a child who saw beond price or appearance, one who understood what was truly precious." He makes the lad a present of the mysterious dreidel which spins long and merrily with some unusual twists of its own.
I liked the setting of the story and the little store and village as well as the message of the simple tale. Martha Simpson, a Connectiut author of books for teachers and librarians as well as of children's books, wrote the story. Durga Bernhard, a New York based award-winning illustrator and author, did the illustrations. The book includes a brief discussion of the background of the holiday of Hanukkah and of the use of the dreidel. This short picture book is suitable for children five and up.
The publisher of this book, Wisdom Tales, kindly sent me a review copy. Wisdom Tales publishes a variety of children's books which encourage young people to understand different spiritual traditions, including the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, from around the world.