Monday, October 12, 2020

Children's picture books about Jewish holidays, Purim and Hanukkah [Review & Giveaway - USA

We're looking at a couple of books from Wisdom Tales publishing company that are distinctively Jewish. These are children's books about the celebration of Jewish holidays. I believe that our Christian heritage is rooted in Jesus, but also in those who went before and are brought alive to us in the Old Testament which is also a history of the Jewish peoples. 

Children need to know that others sometimes believe differently and have different holidays. Children won't be confused if taught correctly but will grow to understand and appreciate these differences.

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard


My thoughts: 
In The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah approaches and the toyshop owner (in the "old country") has sold all his dreidels.  A dreidel is a spinning toy similar to a "top" and was a beloved toy of Jewish children. While the story teaches virtually nothing about the holiday itself, it does teach how miracles cannot be bought.

The book's back pages include information regarding the decorations which are letters or symbols that are part of the dreidel game and are part of how you play the dreidel game. 

The story itself is of how the dreidel is sold to selfish, demanding individuals and when they couldn't get it to spin, they returned it to the toyshop for a refund of what they paid. Finally, the toyshop owner gives it to a kind, sweet boy for whom the dreidel spins beautifully.

A lovely story.

About the book: This dreidel doesn't work! the father had cried. What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work? the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart? In this beautiful holiday story by award-winning author Martha Simpson, and brought to life by the imaginative illustrations of award-winning illustrator D. Yael Bernhard, the happiness and joy of the Hanukkah miracle will warm the heart of young and old alike with its simple message: wonders still occur for those who are ready for them. Included is a useful appendix that explains Hanukkah, and an explanation on how to play the dreidel game."


Esther's Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim by Martha Seif Simpson, Durga Yael Bernhard (Contributor)


My thoughts:  The noise of the graggers being played with by shoppers and children is really bothering the toyshop owner. Yet he still purchases additional graggers from the peddler.

After receiving the newer graggers from the peddler, a young boy hurryingly enters the toyshop and selects a gragger beautifully painted that has Queen Esther's name on it to give his sister who is also named Esther. With some reluctance the shopkeeper agrees not to sell it a few hours so the boy can return with adequate funds to purchase it.

Soon a very large boy arrives and rudely demands he be sold the Queen Esther gragger. When told he can not have that one, he bellows loudly and slams his hand on the counter demanding that specific gragger for himself. The shopkeeper is adamant to not sell it to this rude customer telling him that he is not welcome in the toyshop.

The young boy returns and buys the gragger after which the bully confronts him and tried to get the toy from the sister who by now is holding the gragger.

The story ends well with shouting and the noise of the graggers driving the bully away. A well written story about the celebration of Purim which is the celebration of Queen Esther's defiance of Hamman in Jewish history when Hamman sought to rid the kingdom of Jews. Hamman was defeated.

The story of Esther is important in the Biblical context for Christians as well as it is rooted in Jewish history. Purim is a Jewish holiday commemorating Esther. The back pages of this children's book provide non-fiction information about Purim and graggers. 

About the book: Young Esther is given a special gragger (a noisemaker) to celebrate the fun, and sometimes raucous, Jewish festival of Purim. An older boy bullies her to get it for himself, but Esther reacts with great courage and intelligence, her actions reflecting the biblical story on which Purim is based. The lively cast of characters quibble and carouse in a bygone world of warmth, surprise, and generosity. There is even a parade for children only. The appendix helps readers understand the history of Purim, how it is celebrated today, what a "gragger" is, and how to make a simple noisemaker. Following the award-winning The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin, author Martha Seif Simpson and illustrator D. Yael Bernhard have again created a new toyshop tale of playful language and images that hint at ancient roots and hidden meanings, which are just waiting for young readers to find. This is a tale ideal for reading aloud for fun, but also for learning.
Begins October 12
Ends November 6 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent directly to winner by publisher, publicist, or author/s.


  1. I would like "Shivs". I would give a gift of "The Generous Fish".

  2. I would like Whispers of the Wolf for my granddaughters. I would like to see a review of Spirit of the Indian Warrior.



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