Hanukkah food & gifts | Local author puts Jewish spin on beloved song

It’s a busy time for Caryn Yacowitz. With Hanukkah fast approaching and on the heels of her newly published romp for kids, “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel,” the author has been booked up.

Caryn Yacowitz

“I’ve been running around to schools, synagogues, book fairs,” says the Palo Alto resident, who has three upcoming bookstore appearances.

Though she’s written other children’s books, “This is my first Jewish kids’ book,” the author says. “I’m very excited. I’ve always wanted to do a Jewish book.”

“Old Lady” is told in rhymes that mimic the beat of the song “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and follow the repetitive pattern of the much-loved Passover song “Chad Gad Ya.”

“I love cumulative rhyme,” Yacowitz says. “It’s part of Jewish tradition.” The old lady gulps down gelt, brisket, a menorah and other Hanukkah icons, with large, colorful illustrations by David Slonim that parody fam-ous works such as Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

Though recommended for ages 4 to 8, Yacowitz’s book is a fun read for any age.

A member of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills who has taught Hebrew school and Jewish family education, she’s also done PR work and even written a play.

Oh, and she does puppet shows, too.

Yacowitz dedicated “I Know an Old Lady” to her 8-year-old granddaughter, Isabel. “I read to her all the time,” she says.

Caryn Yacowitz will appear at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6 at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Reading Bug in San Carlos and 2 p.m. at the Linden Tree in Los Altos.

“I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel” by Caryn Yacowitz (32 pages, Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99)