The Humble Boy


shop window

© Durga Yael Bernhard

This is the last in my series of three posts about The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spinwritten by Martha Simpson and illustrated by me.  The last, and in my opinion most important, character to enter the story is this nameless, humble boy.  Without a penny to spend, he enters the toyshop full of wonder and empty of demands.  Here is a child who asks just to look.  Unsurprisingly, the magic dreidel that refused to spin for the previous children who were greedy and spoiled, readily spins for this child.  The shopkeeper realizes the dreidel has found its rightful owner, and gives the dreidel to the boy.pg23-boy

endpapers lower rightAs with the other characters in this book, little is written to describe him.  To enhance the reader’s sense of this boy’s good nature, I created small vignettes for the book’s endpapers.  These little illustrations are snapshots of the boy’s personality as he makes his way through the city with his father.  He feeds the birds and the fish, though he does not have enough to eat for himself.  He stops to pet a stray cat.  He helps an old woman down some steps.  He amuses himself with simple things.  The message is clear: this boy is unselfish and compassionate, loves animals, and respects his elders.


endpapers lower leftendpapers-upper-rightI had to put some thought into how I would depict the father.  Here is a man who is not a good provider, with no money to spend for Chanukah – yet a loving father who is raising a compassionate and courteous child.  I imagined not a deadbeat dad, but a young graduate student who has not reached his full potential, yet embraces fatherhood just the same.  Perhaps there is no greater gift for a young boy than a loving and present father who has time to take a stroll through the city streets with his son, window shopping and throwing bread crumbs off a bridge.

endpapers-center-leftYou don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy The Dreidel That Wouldn’t SpinOrder two signed books from my webstore before the holidays and get a FREE calendar ($18 value): The Jewish Eye Calendar of Art.


Warm wishes and happy holidays to all!


D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVENew!! Explore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!

This entry was posted in Children's Books, Image of the Week, Jewish Learning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *