Books by Joan Betty Stuchner

CAN HENS GIVE MILK? by Joan Betty Stuchner
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2011

An original tale takes readers to that nexus of foolishness, the village of Chelm. Shlomo and Rivka have "five children, twelve scrawny hens, one rooster and not much money." So they use simple logic: A cow gives milk because she eats grass, so if they feed grass to their hens, the hens will give milk. This is, of course, a Chelm story. Chelm, for those who don't know, is a village from Jewish folktales, populated by the most foolish people in the world. Stuchner is completely at home with the almost-logic of Chelm. (It may seem paradoxical to write a new traditional folktale, but it's very much in the spirit of Chelm.) As in the best of the traditional stories, every step of the villagers' thought process makes perfect sense. Readers might even find themselves thinking, "Why shouldn't hens give milk? It's only fair." Children will have a great time looking for the flaw in the argument. There are a few lulls, but Stuchner carries the gag through to a very amusing last page, in which Shlomo imagines a goat trying to hatch an enormous egg. Weissman's illustrations help to sell the joke: The goat just looks so content up there on top of her egg. The story is so successful in making the absurd seem obvious that readers may wonder why they didn't think of it themselves. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
HONEY CAKE by Joan Betty Stuchner
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 26, 2008

"There are so many ways of being brave," David's father explains. Through this straightforward and informative story of Jews in the Danish Resistance during World War II, the youngest readers learn what life was like under Nazi occupation. It's 1943 Copenhagen, where shortages of food and fuel make it difficult to run the family bakery. Everyone seems to have secrets, even ten-year-old David's older sister Rachel and their parents. When Papa sends David to deliver some éclairs, the boy suspects it is more than a simple errand but remains calm under pressure, knowing that he is contributing to something larger than himself. While more happens to David than could possibly happen to one ten-year-old boy, his tale conveys a wealth of historical detail, from the famed horseback-riding King Christian to Victor Borge's humor. Nugent's uneven pen-and-ink illustrations are jarring, but the story itself moves along at a good clip. A fine offering for readers not quite ready for Number the Stars. (recipe, afterword) (Historical fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >