The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah story

by Eric A. Kimmel

Other authorsKatya Krenina (Illustrator)
Book, 1996



Call number

E 247 KIM



New York : Holiday House, c1996.


When an old lady swindles him out of his magic dreidels, Jacob tries to get them back in time for the family's Hanukkah celebration.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Eric A. Kimmel - whose Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is one of my favorite tales for this time of year - takes the folk-tale of The Tablecloth, the Donkey and the Stick, and reclothes it in Hanukkah garb in The Magic Dreidels. When Jacob brings his new brass dreidel with him, while fetching
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water, his careless playing results in the beautiful top falling into a well. The resident goblin, unable to restore it to him, instead gives him a magical wooden dreidel that spins out latkes. Hurrying home to show this wonder to his family, Jacob is waylaid by a deceitful neighbor, Fruma Sarah, who secretly exchanges his magical dreidel for an ordinary one, while pretending to clean it. A second trip to the well produces another magical dreidel, which spins out Hanukkah gelt, but this too is stolen by Fruma Sarah. It is only on his third trip to the well, that Jacob learns of his neighbor's deception, and receiving a different kind of magical dreidel, sets out to teach her a lesson...

The "three magic gifts" tale-type - number 563 in the Aarne-Thompson folklore classification system - can be found in many traditions, from the German fairy-tales of the Brothers Grimm, to the Norwegian folk collection of Asbjørnsen and Moe. This Jewish variant, although not originally a Hanukkah story, works very well in its holiday setting, making it an engaging and magical selection, perfect for the season. Katya Krenina - who also worked on Eric A. Kimmel's The Bird's Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story - captures the enchantment of the story with her gorgeous illustrations, which make good use of both color and light. I particularly liked her depiction of the goblin, who has almost the look of a water sprite, or a mer-man. Young folklore enthusiasts who enjoy fantastic tales will particularly appreciate this Hanukkah selection, I think.
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LibraryThing member eobend1
I liked this book for two reasons. First, I liked the plot of the story which was well-paced and intriguing. In the story, the main character, Jacob loses his dreidel in a well. He searches for the dreidel and discovers a goblin at the bottom of the well with whom he later becomes friends with. The
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goblin gives Jacob a magic dreidel that produces endless delicious latkes, and when Jacob’s neighbor repeatedly attempts to steal the magic dreidel, his goblin friend helps turn the tables on Jacob’s neighbor. I liked the plot of this story because although this book is a short picture book, it includes an extensive and clever plot that children would enjoy. I also liked the characters in this book. I love that the author used a friendly wizard-like goblin to act as the hero in the story, because typically a goblin is portrayed as evil. Instead, though, the antagonist in the story is Jacob’s neighbor who is initially just an ordinary and innocent-seeming girl. I liked that the story is suspenseful and that the characters are uniquely portrayed. The big idea of this book is to tell an imaginative story about a magic dreidel during Hanukkah, to get readers excited for the Holiday.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Oh I just love the peaceful goblin in the well, with his monocle, braided beard, and bucket hat. Great story; as the author's note explains it's inspired by the folktale The Tablecloth, the Donkey, and the Stick." I will look for more by this author and illustrator."
LibraryThing member adriennelaine
This is a fictional, religious tale centered around the concept and practices of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.


0823412563 / 9780823412563

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