The Peddler’s Gift

Maxine Rose Schur

Written by Maxine Rose Schur
Illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root

When Shnook, the peddler, arrives in the sleepy town of Korovenko, young Leibush runs to meet him. Every peddler brings merriment to the village, but simple Shnook brings more laughs than any of them.

On this visit, Shnook’s wares include beautiful, hand-carved dreidels. Leibush can’t take his eyes off them! When Leibush notices one mistakenly left behind, he makes excuses for keeping the dreidel. It isn’t until Leibush makes amends that he learns the peddler’s simple ways might just be a cover for a wealth of wisdom and forgiveness. And when Hanukkah comes, Shnook leaves Leibush a gift to last a lifetime.

Acclaimed author Maxine Rose Schur’s dramatic story has a simple voice that speaks volumes about the depth of kindness and honor that can be found in unlikely places. Combined with Kimberly Bulcken Root’s expertly crafted and touching illustrations, The Peddler’s Gift will reach straight into your heart.

Winner of the Sydney Taylor Award, Smithsonian Notable Book of the Century, and Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book

“This nuanced portrait of shtetl life opens a window onto a lost world.” – Smithsonian Magazine

“This gentle story is written with a fine folkloric tone that evokes both the richness and simplicity of a time long past.” – School Library Journal

“Schur writes with poetic grace . . . with color and depth, making a painful incident poignant and underscoring some of life’s elusive lessons.” – San Francisco Chronicle

Ages 3-11 8.5″x8.5″


  1. Reviewed by American Library Association

    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. (Reviewed October 1, 1999)— Hazel Rochman

  2. Reviewed by Publishers Weekly

    Editorial Reviews 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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. Publishers Weekly – Publisher’s Weekly

  3. Reviewed by Smithsonian Magazine

    This nuanced portrait of shtetl life opens a window onto a lost world.

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