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Reviewed by Barbara Fanson for Readers' Favorite
When everyone’s sleeping, Harry, Nancy, Gail, and Sheila climb out of the box and start to dance. But, they’re not people, they’re dreidels—the spinning tops used to celebrate Hanukkah. Dancing Dreidels is an imaginative story that will be enjoyed by children and adults not just in Jewish homes—but all homes. Author Alva Sachs has written an imaginative story that is both entertaining and educational about this Jewish tradition . For some, it’s an educational book about the four-sided dreidel that is played with during Hanukkah. Each side of the dreidel has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: Nun, Gimel, Shin, and He. The main character, Rebecca, can’t wait for Hanukkah and brings her dreidels out of the closet a month before. She has a box full of different sizes and colors, but she has named her favorite ones: Harry Hey, Nancy Nun, Gail Gimmel, and Sheila Shin. I’m glad the terminology and instructions on how to play the dreidel game were included at the back of the book to increase young readers’ knowledge of the tradition.
Author Alva Sachs has created a wonderful story of how some dreidels practice spinning—or dancing—before Hanukkah, so they can spin longer and not fall over so quickly. What a great idea to have objects come alive while people sleep! Dancing Dreidels demonstrates determination because Sheila never quits. Even though she keeps falling over, she continues to practice after the other dreidels have gone to sleep. She kept telling herself she can do it. Will Sheila be able to spin as long as the other dreidels when Rebecca’s relatives come for the festivities? It’s ironic that Hanukkah means dedication—and that’s exactly what Sheila demonstrates by practicing all night long. A lovely read for all ages.