“This dreidel doesn’t work!” the father cried.
“What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work?” the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most
beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden
letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled
children who insisted on owning it. Later, the shopkeeper decides to try
it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the
true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?
In this beautiful holiday story,
the happiness and joy of the Hanukkah miracle will warm the heart of
young and old alike with its simple message: wonders still occur for
those who are ready for them. Included is a useful appendix that
explains Hanukkah, and an explanation on how to play the dreidel game."
A child's innocent appreciation for life's small wonders transforms a
shopkeeper's business attitude during the busy selling season of
Hanukkah. The owner of the small toyshop is immediately intrigued with
the potential of a large profit if he can sell a peddler's oversized,
elaborately painted dreidel. Ignoring the peddler's statement that "the
miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought," the shopkeeper places the new
dreidel prominently in the window, attracting the attention of a spoiled
girl who demands her father buy it. But the dreidel will not spin for
the girl, so she returns it for a refund the next day. An equally
arrogant boy buys the dreidel and returns it for the same reason,
leaving the shopkeeper mystified. Finally, a poor child enters the shop
and lovingly admires the beautiful dreidel as a symbol of Hanukkah. When
he is coaxed by the shopkeeper to spin it, the dreidel spins for
several minutes, magically changing its letters as it falls to indicate a
poignant message. The shopkeeper decides to gift the special dreidel to
this poor but respectful boy. Simpson uses familiar European folk-tale
motifs, which Bernhard matches with acrylic paintings of an Old World
setting; both illustrate how humility outshines greed and arrogance.
Backmatter explains the real miracle of Hanukkah and the holiday's
significance as well as rules for playing dreidel. A sweet original tale
with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message. (Picture book.
Ages 5-7) Kirkus Reviews Issue Date: September 1, 2014
Online Publish Date: August 12, 2014
While You Are Sleeping - written & illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard