The Golden Dreydl
Product Code: 91356
Binding Information: Hardback
Ages: 8 - 11
Availability: In stock
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Nun, Gimel, Hey, Shin
Sara finds Chanukah celebrations boring. When her Tante Miriam arrives and gives her a Golden Dreydl, everything changes. The dreydl, an enchanted princess in disguise, takes Sara on a journey to a magical world.
When the princess is taken by the Demon King, who possesses the power of the Tree of Life, it is Sara who must use her wit to save the princess and return her to her parents — King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
A delightful holiday tale that weaves together threads of Jewish folklore and tradition with fantasy and humor.
This book is good for your brain because:
Family traditions, cultures, identity
The Golden Dreydl was originally inspired by the music of the renowned band Shirim, who created a klezmer version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” for the Chanukah season. Ellen decided she wanted to write a story based on The Nutcracker, but with a Jewish flavor. Instead of Clara going to a Christmas party and receiving a nutcracker that turns into a prince from her uncle, Sara goes to a Chanukah party and receives an enchanted dreydl from her aunt and it turns into a princess — a girl her own age who accompanies her on a magical journey through a mystic kingdom.
Ellen joined Shirim in a staged version of The Golden Dreydl and they also performed it on Ellen's PRI radio program Sound & Spirit. It also became a popular album. Listen to a clip from the Klezmer Nutcracker that started it all.
Read a chapter from The Golden Dreydl.
Download the cover image.
Learn more about the author.
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Booklist - August 1, 2007Dreydls 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 form 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.
Hadassah Magazine - November 1, 2007Sara, who envies her friend's Christmas celebrations, finds new excitement in a fanciful Hanukka triggered by Ellen Kushner's The Golden Dreydl. Peopled with a magical cast that includes evil demons and biblical royalty, the book is an imaginative stretch but a pleasant read that is sure to engage Harry Potter enthusiasts.
Jewish Book World - November 1, 2007A fantasy for younger chapter-book readers, this takeoff of The Nutcracker is a Jewish-themed adventure into the magical world of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Sara's mysterious Tante Miriam makes a surprise appearance at her family's Chanukah dinner. Miriam has unusual gifts for all the children, but offers a huge golden dreydl to Sara that disappoints her. After a tussle over the dreydl breaks the TV screen, Sara is held responsible, and the dreydl, who has taken her real form of an enchanted princess, guides Sara through the broken television set and into a world of fantasy.
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 agood 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 combinging Jewish folklore and holiday tradition swith 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 thatKushner has created. A useful glossary of Jewish terms is included.
Book, Book, Book - November 28, 2007Sara has a dilemma common to Jewish kids: Christmas envy. When the mysterious Tante Miriam shows up at the family Chanukah party and gives each kid a gift, Sara’s annoyance deepens; her present is a weird, huge, golden dreydl. Except, well, it actually sends her spinning into another reality, one that includes King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, a lost princess who needs rescuing, and the Demon King. Also, some highly satisfying riddles that my kid has been enjoying trying out on friends.
I can’t pretend to be unbiased about this new addition to the Chanukah canon: it’s by my cousin. But just as she’s more than accomplished enough not to need a plug from me, The Golden Dreydl had plenty going for it on its own to engage both reader and listener, even without the family connection, when I read it aloud to my daughter a few weeks ago. It was especially fun to find the “Nutcracker Suite” connections together (though I have to admit that the riddles were made even more enjoyable by my slowly dawning realization that most of them came from the stock of jokes my dad used to tell us).