I Know an Old Lady Who Swal­lowed a Dreidel

Caryn Yacowitz; David Slonim, illus.
  • Review
March 30, 2015

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.

Discussion Questions