A child’s innocent appreciation for life’s small wonders transforms a shopkeeper’s business attitude during the busy selling season of Hanukkah.
The owner of the small toyshop is immediately intrigued with the potential of a large profit if he can sell a peddler’s oversized, elaborately painted dreidel. Ignoring the peddler’s statement that “the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought,” the shopkeeper places the new dreidel prominently in the window, attracting the attention of a spoiled girl who demands her father buy it. But the dreidel will not spin for the girl, so she returns it for a refund the next day. An equally arrogant boy buys the dreidel and returns it for the same reason, leaving the shopkeeper mystified. Finally, a poor child enters the shop and lovingly admires the beautiful dreidel as a symbol of Hanukkah. When he is coaxed by the shopkeeper to spin it, the dreidel spins for several minutes, magically changing its letters as it falls to indicate a poignant message. The shopkeeper decides to gift the special dreidel to this poor but respectful boy. Simpson uses familiar European folk-tale motifs, which Bernhard matches with acrylic paintings of an Old World setting; both illustrate how humility outshines greed and arrogance. Backmatter explains the real miracle of Hanukkah and the holiday’s significance as well as rules for playing dreidel.
A sweet original tale with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message (Picture book. 5-7)