Jeremy’s Drei­del

Ellie Gell­man; Maria Mola, illus.
  • Review
By – May 29, 2013
Jeremy’s Drei­del is a sim­ple yet com­pelling sto­ry, which, in its short nar­ra­tive, con­veys so much. It is Hanukkah time and the art project at the com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter is drei­del-mak­ing. This is a fun project and every­one involved has great ideas about how to make a spe­cial drei­del with unusu­al mate­ri­als and much cre­ativ­i­ty. But Jere­my says he needs only clay and noth­ing more. When he starts adding pecu­liar dots to the sides of his drei­del, though, the oth­er chil­dren become inter­est­ed and curi­ous. As it turns out, Jeremy’s father is blind, and what Jere­my is mak­ing are Braille let­ters to attach to the drei­del, so his father can use it and appre­ci­ate it. This leads to a dis­cus­sion about blind peo­ple among Jeremy’s friends; how they behave, what their rec­og­niz­able fea­tures might be, how they fit into society’s con­cepts of work, play, read­ing and func­tion­ing. The con­ver­sa­tion diff uses the children’s fears and uncer­tain­ties in deal­ing with this dis­abil­i­ty. Jere­my also ini­ti­ates a change in the plan to enclose the drei­dels in a dis­play case, as Jeremy’s father would not be able to see a drei­del dis­played behind glass. Instead, they are kept in the open where they can be touched and played with; they will be hands-on pieces, true play­things. Jeremy’s father and every­one else can take turns spin­ning and enjoy­ing the Braille drei­del. 

This is a beau­ti­ful pic­ture book with soft, expres­sive art, which per­fect­ly suits the gen­tle sto­ry­line. An addi­tion­al charm­ing fea­ture is a sec­tion at the end giv­ing direc­tions as to how to make sev­er­al of the drei­dels men­tioned in the book as well as instruc­tions for play­ing the drei­del game. This makes the book itself a hands-on Hanukkah kit for par­ents, teach­ers and chil­dren. This sec­tion also con­tains a short expla­na­tion about Braille, a chart of Braille Eng­lish alpha­bet let­ters and the Hebrew Braille for the let­ters nun, gimel, hay and shin, the let­ters on the sides of tra­di­tion­al drei­dels. This book is hearti­ly and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly rec­om­mend­ed for chil­dren ages 5 – 9
Noa Paz Wahrman is a Jew­ish stud­ies librar­i­an and bib­li­og­ra­ph­er at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty in Bloom­ing­ton IN.

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