The Missing Letters: A Dreidel Story

Renee Londner, illus. by Iryna Bodnaruk. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-8933-2
Everyone knows that when the dreidel lands on gimel, it’s winner take all. No wonder all the heys, nuns, and shins in the dreidel-maker’s shop are so resentful: what can compete with gimel’s popularity at Hanukkah? “When the dreidel stops on me, they have to add to the pot,” grumbles a shin, as the letters engage in misery one-upmanship. But what if all the gimels went missing? Maybe the rules of the game—and the letters’ pecking order—would change? It’s an ingenious idea for a story but, alas, not a fully realized one. Bodnaruk’s illustrations feel unfocused and fussed over, and she struggles to turn the letters into vivid characters (they resemble blobby brown imps in colorful robes). Londner capably channels the letters’ jealousy (and Jewish inflections), but she brings the story to a halt midway to explain the dreidel’s backstory and prove that it is no mere toy. Ages 4–9. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-4677-9413-8
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