The Drei­del That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah

Martha Seif Simp­son; Dur­ga Yael Bern­hard, illus.
  • Review
By – June 2, 2015

In this fable set in a toyshop at Hanukkah, a greedy shop­keep­er pur­chas­es the most beau­ti­ful drei­del he has ever seen. He sells it for a hefty price to the father of a spoiled lit­tle girl who returns it because it wouldn’t spin. He then low­ers the price and sells it to the moth­er of a demand­ing lit­tle boy. Again, it is returned. When an impov­er­ished father and son enter the shop, the child is in awe of all the beau­ti­ful items, but obeys his father’s instruc­tions and doesn’t touch any­thing. The store own­er, moved by the child who saw beyond price or appear­ance, one who under­stood what was tru­ly pre­cious” then gives the dam­aged” drei­del to the child. Mag­i­cal­ly, the drei­del spins for him and the let­ters spell out a small mir­a­cle hap­pened here” instead of a mir­a­cle hap­pened there” (Jerusalem). As in all good lit­er­a­ture, the main char­ac­ter under­goes a pos­i­tive change. This moral­i­ty tale should pro­voke live­ly dis­cus­sions in both reli­gious and sec­u­lar spheres. 

The charm­ing old-world illus­tra­tions en­hance the text and the author’s note explains the sto­ry of Hanukkah and gives direc­tions on how to play the drei­del game. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 5 and up.

Sandy Lan­ton, a for­mer teacher, earned a BA in Psy­chol­o­gy and an MS in Ear­ly Child­hood Edu­ca­tion from Queens Col­lege. She is the author of Daddy’s Chair (Syd­ney Tay­lor Award), The Hap­py Hack­ers, Lots Of Latkes, Still a Fam­i­ly: A Young Child’s Book About Divorce (Git­tle Hon­or­able Men­tion), and The Lit­tlest Levine (named one of the best Jew­ish Children’s Books of 2014 by Tablet Mag­a­zine). Her work has appeared in mag­a­zines as well as sev­er­al antholo­gies. When she isn’t writ­ing sto­ries or vis­it­ing schools, Ms. Lan­ton likes to cro­chet, line dance, play bridge and pick­le­ball, spend time with her grandchil­dren, and read, read, read.

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