Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review - Jeremy's Dreidel


Jeremy's Dreidel: Hanukkah

By: Ellie Gellman
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761375074
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2012

Jeremy longingly eyed the poster on the wall of the Jewish community center. There was going to be a dreidel workshop on Monday and the only thing that kids were asked to do was to "bring your own ideas!" Just maybe he had an idea to bring. Abby and David, who were friends of his, were already clustered around a table looking at a book when he arrived in the art room. David had his finger on the picture of a dreidel he was interested in making, but just maybe Jeremy had his own idea. Miriam, their workshop leader assured them that he could indeed make that dreidel, but first she wanted to know what they knew about them.

Adam knew that they spun it on Hanukkah, but Jeremy knew the dreidel was very special. "It has four Hebrew letters on it. `Nun,' `Gimel,' `Hey,' and `Shin.' They stand for `Nes Gadol Hyah Sham,' A great Miracle Happened There." Miriam went on to talk about how the tiny Macabee Army defeated the Antiochus army, the miracle the dreidel represented. More of the students chimed in with facts they knew, but Jeremy was still thinking about the idea he brought with him. After the discussion the children began to bring out materials they had brought in order to create their dreidels. Abby, Jacob, and Matthew brought some really interesting things, but the only thing Jeremy had was an ugly lump of clay. What could he possibly make with that?

This is the fascinating story of how Jeremy and his classmates learn about and create their own dreidels. Of course that ugly lump of clay was going to be Jeremy's gift of love for his father, who was blind. That "secret code" he was pressing into the clay was Braille. The tale nicely incorporates the history of the dreidel along with special feelings Jeremy has for his father as he tells his classmates how his father does things. For example, he says, "My dad uses a cane, so he doesn't bump into anything. And he has a tiny GPS that tells him when to turn right or left in a new place." In the back of the book are instructions for making three dreidels, including directions on how to play the game. There is a brief paragraph about Braille, including a sidebar with the English Braille alphabet and the dreidel letters. One thing to note is that the `Shin' is not a letter, but rather a second grade Braille contraction representing the letters `s' and `h.' This is a fun and novel tale about the dreidel you may wish to add to your library, homeschool, or classroom shelves!

Quill says: This is a perfect tale for children to not only learn about the history of the dreidel, but also about how differently-abled people see the world.