Gr. 2-4. Here's a surprise: there's more to know about dreidels than the meaning of Hebrew letters on their sides. The tops take center stage in this book, which begins with a concise review of the holiday and the role of dreidels. Tidbits follow: what tops are made from, how the game is played, the science of spinning, and more. Sandwiched between are stories of two heroines recognized during Hanukkah (Judith, who saved her people by severing Holophernes' head, and Hannah, who stripped naked to make a political point). It's good (and unusual) to see women getting attention in a Hanukkah book, but the tales are an odd fit given the focus on dreidels. A chapter on holiday food is also problematic: the suggestions for updating traditional potato pancakes sound intriguing (crushed pineapple, peanut butter), but without proportions (or even a basic latke recipe) to refer to, they aren't practical. A scattering of thumbnail facts and cartoon sketches liven up the book, which, despite a few blips still delivers some intriguing information and a little fun. Stephanie Zvirin
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About the Author
Rebecca Tova Ben-Zvi makes her latkes with sweet potatoes and plays dreidel year-round. Writing as Rebecca O'Connell, she is the author of The Baby Goes Beep. A librarian and storyteller, she lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Susanna Natti lives in Bedford, Massachusetts, and hums the dreidel song when she's making potato latkes for her family. Jim-the dog stays close and hopes for extras.