A little girl’s dreidel must learn how to spin properly in time for Hanukkah in this children’s picture book.
Rebecca, a little girl with dark hair and pale skin, decides that with Hanukkah coming up, she’ll practice spinning her four favorite dreidels, each named after one of the Hebrew letters painted on their four sides: Harry Hey, Neil Nun, Gail Gimmel, and Sheila Shin. The first three of these special dreidels can whirl a long time, but Sheila just falls over immediately. At night, the dreidels practice spinning, encouraging Sheila when she falls. When the others go to sleep, Sheila keeps practicing. Though Sheila is nervous, all four dreidels dance beautifully when the time comes. The story itself doesn’t give background for the holiday, but a final section—“Let’s Learn About Hanukkah”—provides information about its origin and customs, including how to play with dreidels. Sachs (Dear Dragon Master, 2013, etc.) mirrors a child’s excitement about an upcoming holiday in the dreidels’ anticipation, both pleased and nervous, over their magical dance performance. Children can sometimes feel as if they’re being put on show during big family gatherings, so they also can relate to Sheila’s nerves and to the reassurance that’s found in the other dreidels’ kindness, plus the family warmth centered on a delicious holiday meal. The full-page illustrations by Krebs (Me & Him, 2014, etc.) are charmingly colorful and expressive.
The pride of mastering skills through practice comes through in this affectionate holiday story.