Singer’s short story, first published in The Power of Light (1980) and now fully illustrated in a new picture-book version, depicts family, love, and marriage.
A lost, Yiddish-speaking parakeet arrives on the windowsill of David’s Brooklyn apartment, most likely attracted by the light of the family’s menorah. Unable to find its rightful owner, the family keeps the pet, and it quickly becomes an integral part of their lives for the next nine years. Berkson uses black-outlined soft watercolors to extend each development in the story beyond the original apartment-window scene. The flurry of activity created by the bird’s sudden appearance in the family’s quiet holiday evening is depicted with a series of vignettes around the text. A double-page spread emulating a photo album delineates David’s growth. These “photos” highlight music and art lessons, baseball, a growth chart, bar mitzvah, and graduation, all in black and white with only the green-and-yellow tint of Dreidel’s feathers and the bird’s red beak in each image. The presence of the parakeet in the boy’s life continues with Dreidel’s reunion with his original owner, now David’s new bride. A Chagall-like painting of the happy couple in joyful bliss floating through the sky with baby and Dreidel in tow adds a final touch of romance.
Berkson’s illustrations give this sweet tale a new life and a new audience. (Picture book. 5-8)