A special Hanukkah workshop at the Jewish Community Center gives Jeremy a chance to make a unique dreidel as a surprise gift for his father, who is blind. When the workshop leader welcomes everyone, materials are out and waiting. Abby is eager to make her dreidel from recycled materials, Jacob wants to reuse an old music box, and Matthew hopes to make his out of a rubber ball. As they begin working, Jeremy uses a simple lump of gray clay to create his dreidel, molding dots on each side. Confused and a bit intrigued, the other children watch Jeremy, wondering if the dots are a secret code, and learn they are, in fact, Braille. Jeremy explains that although blind, his dad leads a typical life of work and play, even helping with homework with the use of computer technology. Pastel drawings enhanced with some collage accents depict a modern-day Judaic learning environment. In addition to providing a positive perception of life with a disability, this tale also explains the story and concepts behind the holiday. A postscript includes several dreidel-making projects, instructions for the game and information about the English Braille alphabet. A nicely subtle approach to diversity. (Picture book. 5-7)
- Marilyn Courtot
Young Jeremy makes a Braille dreidel out of molded clay for his blind father in this warm holiday story. Directions for making a dreidel and instructions for playing the game are included.
Endearing illustrations highlight this sweet Hanukkah story about a boy who creates a special dreidel for his father. As the children gather at the Jewish Community Center for dreidel making, Jeremy meets some friends who have come with innovative plans to craft the traditional Hanukkah toy out of recycled materials, to design one that sings, and even to fashion a dreidel that bounces. But it is Jeremy’s idea of constructing a dreidel with braille letters as a gift for his blind father that most intrigues his classmates. Vivid colors and kid-friendly narration will help young readers learn about this important topic with sensitivity. Ages 5–9. (Sept.)
- Avee Gee
When we think of Hanukkah, we often think of the children's game of spinning tops that contains Hebrew letters—symbols of the holiday. At their local Jewish Community Center, the children here are not going to make ordinary dreidels. Abby brings paper towel tubes and old magazines to make an environmentally-friendly dreidel. Jacob's top incorporates a music box. Matthew figures out how to use a rubber ball to make a bouncing top, but all Jeremy needs is a lump of gray clay. Curiously, Jacob is poking holes in the sides of the plain gray clay. Jeremy explains that the holes are Braille dots representing letters. When Jeremy's dreidel is awarded a coveted spot in the lobby's showcase, Jeremy is not happy. If his dreidel is hidden behind glass, his blind father will not be able to see or play with it. The children decide that instead of displaying their artwork, they will organize a Hanukkah party where they can play with their tops and celebrate together. Included in the book is a brief explanation about the holiday, as well as instructions for making various dreidels and the rules for playing the game. Instructions for creating Abby's environmentally-friendly version, Mathew's dreidel ball, David's optical illusion dreidel, and of course Jeremey's Braille dreidel are included. The author's heavy-handed approach in telling us about the holiday and issues related to blindness detracts from the books' appeal. It does provide a teachable moment raising the important issue of being mindful and inclusive of people with varying disabilities. Reviewer: Avee Gee