Book review: The Parakeet Named Dreidel, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, illustrated by Suzanne Raphael Berkson

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. The Parakeet Named Dreidel. Illus. Suzanne Raphael Berkson. Farrar, 2015. $17.99 32p. 9780374300944. Ages 5-8. P8Q9

Singer Parakeet Named DreidelOn the final night of Hanukkah, 10-year-old David is admiring the holiday’s candles reflected in the window of their Brooklyn home when a parakeet mysteriously appears on the other side of the glass. David’s father lets the bird in where it eats millet, plays dreidel (thus its name), and speaks Yiddish words. Shown through delightful black line and watercolor illustrations, the family of three falls in love with the bird, and it becomes very much at home. Nine years forward, when David is telling the story of Dreidel to friends at a college Hanukkah party, he discovers that one of them was the parakeet’s owner. David marries the girl and together they take Dreidel to live with them. The simple story, originally published in The Power of Light (1980), has been enhanced with scenes that did not appear in the original. A great read-aloud at holidays when the Jewish culture can be discussed with non-Jewish children.

April 2016 review by Nel Ward.


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