I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel

Arthur A. Levine Books  2014


Another retelling of the familiar folk song, and it’s very funny. This time, the old lady inadvertently swallows a dreidel perched on a cream cheese-shmeared bagel. The dreidel-eating is followed by oil, latkes, applesauce, brisket, and finally a menorah. Luckily, none of the Hanukkah items are fatal (to rhyme with “dreidel”), and the family celebrates joyously with a hora at story’s end. Clever text and sweetly hilarious illustrations make this a per­fect holiday reading choice. There’s an added element to the book—many of the illustrations are parodies of famous paintings (which are identified in the back matter). When the old lady gulps down the dreidel, she’s portrayed in the style of Munch’s “The Scream”; the final spread pays tribute to Matisse’s “Dance (I).” It’s an interesting conceit for adults, but may not mean much to its young audience—and it’s a bit of a disconnect. There’s no underlying logic to the idea. Still, though it doesn’t add real depth, it doesn’t detract, either.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

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