Tomfoolery before Hanukkah imperils a favorite game.
Just before Hanukkah, the dreidels sit ready for their four Hebrew letters: Nun, Hey, Shin, and Gimel. Alas, the first three are discontents, and here is the reason. Picture a collection of tasty nuts on the table. If you spin the dreidel and it lands on Nun, then “nothing happens.” If it lands on Shin, then a player must “add to the pot.” If it lands on Hey, then “the player only gets to take half the winnings from the pot.” But if it lands on Gimel, a player gets everything. The unhappy letters band together and hide the Gimels. In the morning, the white, human dreidel makers cannot finish their important work, and the master carver explains to his apprentice how the game originated when the Maccabees lived under Roman occupation. Fortunately the unhappy letters have second thoughts and all is well—just in time for a white family to celebrate the holiday. The story is a pleasant addition to the holiday canon. Bodnaruk’s digital illustrations busily fill the pages. Her Hebrew letters have spiky hairdos and googly eyes that look rather like eyeglasses, while her master carver sports a grand moustache and his apprentice wears headphones.
A nice addition to Hanukkah collections. (author’s note) (Picture book/religion. 3-6)