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The Golden Dreydl Hardcover – July 1, 2007
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Dreydls are boring for Sara; after all Hanukkah isn't even an important Jewish holiday. But at her family's celebration, something wonderful happens. Old Tante Miriam gives Sara an ancient golden dreydl that turns out to be a beautiful enchanted princess. To rescue the royal from the evil Demon King, Sara must travel through the TV into a magical world. The chatty storytelling is fast, furious, and sometimes funny, especially the riddles of the vicious king ("If you don't know the answers, we suck out your brains with a straw"), and scattered throughout are delicate black-and-white illustrations that capture the magical realism. Kids will enjoy the fantasy adventure, as well as the contemporary family standoffs; they'll also be interested in Tante Miriam's explanation of the dreydl's symbols. This will be fun for reading aloud. Rochman, Hazel
About the Author
Ellen Kushner is the host and writer of the national public radio series PRI's Sound & Spirit. She is the award-winning author of fantasy novels for teens and adults. Ellen lives in New York City.
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The princess turns out to be the daughter of the king and queen and she is promptly kidnapped by a flying horde of demons and their king, Ashmedai (demon king of Talmudic legend and purported adversary of Solomon). A Fool comes to Sara's aid, listens to her story, and they find sufficient common bonds, including an affinity for solving riddles, to embark on a mission to rescue the princess/dreydl from the demons' clutches. After some rousing adventures, the rescuers succeed in entering the demon king's lair, and find the princess and many other captives spinning like dreydls, helpless to stop. The demons, too, are riddlers, and so it's a good thing that Sara and The Fool are talented puzzle-solvers. The conclusion is satisfying, as Sara returns home with lessons learned, the TV fixed, and the realization that boring old Chanukah parties can be significantly more fun. The author, an established award-winning fantasy writer for teens and adults, does an admirable job of combining Jewish folklore and holiday traditions with an appealing fantasy story for young readers. The delightful black and white line drawings that are sprinkled throughout the text provide further entry into the magical world that Kushner has created. A useful glossary of Jewish terms is included. For ages 8-10. Reviewed by Steve Silverman