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.