Jeremy's Dreidel

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

At the dreidel-making workshop, Jeremy’s friends think he’s molding a secret code on his clay dreidel. But he’s really making a special gift for his father, who is blind. How will he get his friends to appreciate his special dreidel?

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV017110, JUV033020
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.75 x 9.75
ATOS Reading Level 3.4
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 155244
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Ellie B. Gellman

Ellie B. Gellman grew up in Minneapolis, where she first began telling stories to the children in her synagogue. Her previous books include Netta and her Plant, Shai's Shabbat Walk, and Jeremy's Dreidel.

Illustrator: Maria Mola

Maria Mola loves Saturdays and coffee. Born in Barcelona, she trained at the Francesca Bonnemaison School in Barcelona and the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. She works in both traditional and digital media, often combining both. She lives in Chicago.


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2013


Jewish Book World

“Jeremy’s Dreidel is a simple yet compelling story, which, in its short narrative, conveys so much. It is Hanukkah time and the art project at the community center is dreidel-making. This is a fun project and everyone involved has great ideas about how to make a special dreidel with unusual materials and much creativity. But Jeremy says he needs only clay and nothing more. When he starts adding peculiar dots to the sides of his dreidel, though, the other children become interested and curious. As it turns out, Jeremy’s father is blind, and what Jeremy is making are Braille letters to attach to the dreidel, so his father can use it and appreciate it. This leads to a discussion about blind people among Jeremy’s friends; how they behave, what their recognizable features might be, how they fit into society’s concepts of work, play, reading and functioning. The conversation diff uses the children’s fears and uncertainties in dealing with this disability. Jeremy also initiates a change in the plan to enclose the dreidels in a display case, as Jeremy’s father would not be able to see a dreidel displayed behind glass. Instead, they are kept in the open where they can be touched and played with; they will be hands-on pieces, true playthings. Jeremy’s father and everyone else can take turns spinning and enjoying the Braille dreidel. This is a beautiful picture book with soft, expressive art, which perfectly suits the gentle storyline. An additional charming feature is a section at the end giving directions as to how to make several of the dreidels mentioned in the book as well as instructions for playing the dreidel game. This makes the book itself a hands-on Hanukkah kit for parents, teachers and children. This section also contains a short explanation about Braille, a chart of Braille English alphabet letters and the Hebrew Braille for the letters nun, gimel, hay and shin, the letters on the sides of traditional dreidels. This book is heartily and enthusiastically recommended for children ages 5-9.” — Jewish Book World

Jewish Journal

“The good news is that Jeremy’s Dreidel (Kar-Ben Publishing) by Ellie Gellman, has been updated and re-released after 20 years. Parents and teachers never tired of sharing this classic 1992 Chanukah story on account of the emotional wallop it delivers and the discussions that inevitably followed. Unfortunately, the original story started to feel a bit dated. Now we can all thank Kar-Ben publishers for requesting that Gellman take a fresh look at her previous work. She cleverly tightened the narrative, and a new illustrator, Maria Mola, was found who attractively reimagines the artwork.

The story revolves around a youngster named Jeremy who attends a dreidel-making workshop at his local JCC. Even though the other kids are coming up with unusual ideas for their dreidel projects, Jeremy is sticking with a simple ball of clay and molding little dots onto the sides. Does he know a secret code? It turns out Jeremy’s father is blind and this dreidel is meant to be a special gift for his dad. Interesting information about dreidels, Chanukah, Braille and how blind people use modern technology is seamlessly interwoven within the narrative. The wonderful idea to reimagine this 20-year-old picture book now enables a new generation of kids to think a bit more about how a diverse community can celebrate holidays together in meaningful ways.” —The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Feathered Quill

“Jeremy longingly eyed the poster on the wall of the Jewish community center. There was going to be a dreidel workshop on Monday and the only thing that kids were asked to do was to ‘bring your own ideas!’ Just maybe he had an idea to bring. Abby and David, who were friends of his, were already clustered around a table looking at a book when he arrived in the art room. David had his finger on the picture of a dreidel he was interested in making, but just maybe Jeremy had his own idea. Miriam, their workshop leader assured them that he could indeed make that dreidel, but first she wanted to know what they knew about them.

Adam knew that they spun it on Hanukkah, but Jeremy knew the dreidel was very special. ‘It has four Hebrew letters on it. `Nun,’ `Gimel,’ `Hey,’ and `Shin.’ They stand for `Nes Gadol Hyah Sham,’ A great Miracle Happened There.’ Miriam went on to talk about how the tiny Macabee Army defeated the Antiochus army, the miracle the dreidel represented. More of the students chimed in with facts they knew, but Jeremy was still thinking about the idea he brought with him. After the discussion the children began to bring out materials they had brought in order to create their dreidels. Abby, Jacob, and Matthew brought some really interesting things, but the only thing Jeremy had was an ugly lump of clay. What could he possibly make with that?

This is the fascinating story of how Jeremy and his classmates learn about and create their own dreidels. Of course that ugly lump of clay was going to be Jeremy’s gift of love for his father, who was blind. That “secret code” he was pressing into the clay was Braille. The tale nicely incorporates the history of the dreidel along with with special feelings Jeremy has for his father as he tells his classmates how his father does things. For example, he says, ‘My dad uses a cane, so he doesn’t bump into anything. And he has a tiny GPS that tells him when to turn right or left in a new place.’ In the back of the book are instructions for making three dreidels, including directions on how to play the game. There is a brief paragraph about Braille, including a sidebar with the English Braille alphabet and the dreidel letters. One thing to note is that the `Shin’ is not a letter, but rather a second grade Braille contraction representing the letters `s’ and `h.’ This is a fun and novel tale about the dreidel you may wish to add to your library, homeschool, or classroom shelves!" —The Feathered Quill

The Horn Book Magazine

“Jeremy and his friends are enjoying the dreidel-making workshop at their local Jewish Community Center, especially since the children are being encouraged to be creative and put their own, er, spins on their designs. Jeremy decides to make a Braille dreidel for his blind father, which occasions the provision of much information about how blind people communicate and get around. But there is much info as well about Hanukkah and its miracles; and directions for making the featured dreidels, rules for playing with them, and the Braille alphabet are all appended. The illustrations are a little washed out but agreeably homey.” —The Horn Book Review

AJL Newsletter

“When Jeremy joins in a dreidel-making workshop at the Jewish Community Center, he uses clay to make a Braille dreidel for his blind father. He tells the curious onlookers about visual impairment, and his friends prove that they’ve taken the lesson to heart when they plan an inclusive Hanukkah celebration. The story is mildly didactic without being preachy, and the information on offer is genuinely interesting. Jeremy’s warm relationship with his father and the supportive attitudes of his friends are heartwarming. Originally published in 1992, this revised and re-illustrated version is much better suited to today’s readers. The original text was unnecessarily wordy and the realistic illustrations were somber. The 2012 version offers a tightened-up text, updated information about adaptive technologies, and colorful, more whimsical illustrations. The new portrayal of Jeremy has no kippah (unlike the original), though one of his friends wears one in every scene. Old and new versions include instructions for making several kinds of dreidels mentioned in the story. Both include visuals for the Hebrew Braille for nun, gimel, hey, and shin. Neither version offers a clear visual of the written Hebrew letters, which would have been very useful in the section on dreidel-making. Jewish classrooms, libraries, and families will welcome this update to an old favorite. The storyline and back matter easily lend themselves to extension activities related to dreidel-making or adaptive technology.”—AJL Newsletter

Publishers Weekly

“Endearing illustrations highlight this sweet Hanukkah story about a boy who creates a special dreidel for his father. As the children gather at the Jewish Community Center for dreidel making, Jeremy meets some friends who have come with innovative plans to craft the traditional Hanukkah toy out of recycled materials, to design one that sings, and even to fashion a dreidel that bounces. But it is Jeremy’s idea of constructing a dreidel with braille letters as a gift for his blind father that most intrigues his classmates. Vivid colors and kid-friendly narration will help young readers learn about this important topic with sensitivity.”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“A special Hanukkah workshop at the Jewish Community Center gives Jeremy a chance to make a unique dreidel as a surprise gift for his father, who is blind.

When the workshop leader welcomes everyone, materials are out and waiting. Abby is eager to make her dreidel from recycled materials, Jacob wants to reuse an old music box, and Matthew hopes to make his out of a rubber ball. As they begin working, Jeremy uses a simple lump of gray clay to create his dreidel, molding dots on each side. Confused and a bit intrigued, the other children watch Jeremy, wondering if the dots are a secret code, and learn they are, in fact, Braille. Jeremy explains that although blind, his dad leads a typical life of work and play, even helping with homework with the use of computer technology. Pastel drawings enhanced with some collage accents depict a modern-day Judaic learning environment. In addition to providing a positive perception of life with a disability, this tale also explains the story and concepts behind the holiday. A postscript includes several dreidel-making projects, instructions for the game and information about the English Braille alphabet.

A nicely subtle approach to diversity.” —Kirkus Reviews