The popular Jewish tune gets a heartfelt makeover, thanks to Baum's new lyrics and Paschkis's (Yellow Elephant) cheery, mural-like pictures in this paper-over-board volume. While the original song focuses on the title top, Baum casts a wider net, devoting several verses to the joys of an extended family's latke-making and eating ("The cousins grate potatoes;/ That's what we like to do-/ We mix matzo and some onions,/ Then add an egg or two"). Decorated with traditional Jewish motifs, the flattened-perspective tableaux offer an idealized, low-tech evocation of modern family life. The kids play dreidel while a couple dances to music performed by two other family members, and there's nary a TV, Gameboy or Hanukkah present in sight. Young celebrants will likely take comfort in this homey articulation of Jewish tradition and continuity. Ages 3-5. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The pictures take the cakeor rather, the potato pancakesin this retelling of the traditional Hannukah song. The text is slight, an improvisation on the words of the "Dreidel Song," adding a simple story about a family holiday gathering. Cousins, aunts, and uncles assemble to make latkes (potato pancakes), light the Hannukah candles, eat supper, and play the game of dreidel. Some of Baum's verses forego a pleasing rhythm for the sake of the story, but this is only bothersome for readers who try to sing his verses using the traditional melody. (This effort is encouraged by inclusion of the music on the back flyleaf.) Paschkis' paintings, however, do not strike a single dissonant note. Bright and colorful, they illustrate the story in the text, and they raise it to a higher, more delightful level by adding small, telling touches. (At the table, the baby is tossing food away; in the living room, the little boy is pulling the tail of a none-too-happy dog; when this same boy is the loser in the dreidel game, he cries to his mother.) The paintings are executed in a folk-art style, with clean, bold lines. Paschkis also uses a blue-and-white border on each page, evocative of Israeli designs, which gives the whole book a rich, unified feel. A recipe for latkes and instructions for the dreidel game at the end of the story are nice touches.
Children's Literature - Debbie Levy
PreS-Gr 2-A favorite Hanukkah song is given new life in this charmingly illustrated variation. Following the traditional first verse ("I have a little dreidel; I made it out of clay-"), the rhyming text depicts a convivial family gathering to make latkes, light the menorah, and play a joyful game of dreidel, with each new stanza followed by the familiar chorus. Distinctive, folk-art-style illustrations feature a mix of patterns and vibrant solids, thick lines and simple shapes, while the bottom third of each spread frames the text in a bold blue-and-white woodcutlike design. Although the text runs a bit long, the brilliant look of this book is sure to please readers.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The standard dreidel song is enhanced with extra verses describing the Hanukkah celebration of family gathering, making and eating latkes, lighting of the menorah and, of course, rules and ways to play the dreidel game. "Cousins, aunts, and uncles / Come to my house today; / I give them hugs and kisses, / And later we shall play." Coloring book-styled mixed-media paintings outlined in bold marker strokes nicely delineate simple yet familiar basic figures and objects with enough detail to encourage lots of visual study by younger listeners. Traditional-looking Jewish paper-cut borders in Hanukkah blue and white add an aesthetic appeal to this well-designed and enjoyable version of the well-known song. One quibble: The significance of the dreidel's Hebrew letters representing the Hebrew phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" or "A Great Miracle Happened There" is omitted from the "How to Play" page. Latke recipe, game directions and song sheet are appended. (Picture book. 2-5)