Cover image for The peddler's gift
The peddler's gift
Schur, Maxine.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Shnook the peddler
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 x 28 cm
A young boy in turn-of-the-century rural Russia learns that appearances are often deceiving after he steals and then tries to return a dreidel to the traveling peddler Shnook.
Reading Level:
AD 680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.0 0.5 32738.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.2 2 Quiz: 23664.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Maxine Rose Schur remarkably depicts the time and place so vividly that the reader becomes completely immersed in the lives of her characters. With the evocative paintings this provides amemorable and deeply moving book for Hanakkah and all yeaer round.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-9. This new version of a wise fool story originally published as Shnook the Peddler (1985), is illustrated in pencil and watercolors that show the shtetl setting and introduce the characters with gentle humor and grace. A boy, Leibush, describes how everyone considers the meek peddler Shimon ("Shnook") from Pinsk to be a simpleton. Nothing he does turns out right. Other peddlers are jolly entertainers, but Shnook is shy, trusting, unlucky. One night Leibush steals a dreidel from the peddler. Racked by guilt, the boy goes out into the stormy night to return it and finds Shimon alone in the synagogue, singing in a beautiful, vibrant voice. Shimon is glad that Leibush is not a good thief. They shelter together in the synagogue, and the boy realizes that the unworldly peddler is wise, strong, and kind. The detailed, realistic pictures express the quiet humanity of the story in soft tones of grey and blue--except for the storm scene, when the boy learns the truth and the world is bathed in holy light. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The shtetl is also the setting for this atmospheric tale, which goes beyond Hanukkah in its poignantly handled themes about forgiveness. Narrator Leibush can't resist the temptation to pocket a dreidel that has fallen from the bags of a bumbling peddler, dubbed Shnook for his ineptitude. The lessons here are predictable (a repentant Leibush learns that the so-called simpleton is wise indeed), but Schur's (Sacred Shadows) colorful delivery and scene-setting give her message a fresh impact. Likewise, Root's (Hugh Can Do) watercolors make the quaintness of the shtetl secondary to the vulnerability of the characters. Ages 5-9. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-In the Russian village of Korovenko, the children think that Shimon is a real noodle head. Unlike the other flamboyant peddlers who roam the route from Moscow to Minsk, Shimon-or "Shnook" as the children call him-is thin, reticent, and prone to bad luck. He gives the village boys plenty to laugh about, including young Leibush, who narrates this heartwarming tale. Among Shnook's wares are some exquisite, hand-carved Hanukkah dreidels that Leibush knows are too costly to buy, but when one inadvertently falls to the floor unnoticed, he keeps it as his own. Later that night, his conscience burns, and he runs to the synagogue hoping to find the peddler and ask his forgiveness. Shnook's kind and generous heart transforms Leibush forever, particularly after the coveted dreidel mysteriously appears as a gift the following Hanukkah. This gentle story is written with a fine folkloric tone that evokes both the richness and simplicity of a time long past. Charming watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations re-create the dusty palette of a rural turn-of-the-century Russian village, enhancing both the voice and spirit of the story. Broader in theme than a typical "holiday book," this is a fine choice to be read year-round.-T.M. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.