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The Golden Dreidle

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride, by Deborah Bodin Cohen

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What an honor! Engineer Ari has been chosen to drive the very first train from Jaffa to Jerusalem. But after boasting to his fellow engineers, he forgets to say good-bye. As he journeys up and down the hills wishing everyone a Happy New Year, he remembers that Rosh Hashanah is a time for turning around and saying you're sorry. Children's Literature The year is 1892 and Israel's first train's maiden journey coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As the title character says, "A new year, a new railway." As the lucky engineer entrusted with driving the train from Jaffa to Jerusalem, Ari is excited and proud. In fact, too proud: he boasts insensitively to fellow engineers not chosen for this honor. As Ari wends his way to Jerusalem, the writer seamlessly conveys a sense of place: "The train chug-a-lugged past palm trees and prickly pear cactus. A beekeeper looked up from her honeycombs to wave." As Ari makes various stops, he receives various foods traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah, such as apples and honey. However, his overall happiness is soon diminished as he misses his fellow engineers and realizes that he hurt their feelings. To make amends (a key component of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), Ari returns to his friends bearing holiday gifts. The book includes both a glossary of terms and an author's note about Israel's first train. The text is informative in a reader-friendly way, and the simple, colorful drawings are just right for the simple, straightforward text. Paperback, 32 pages, isbn 9780822586500

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