Eighteen tales, never before translated from Yiddish, present the ordinary and the miraculous from an Eastern European Jewish world long gone.
Squirrel families, human families, the moon, kings, witches, and sorcerers all inhabit these tales set in small towns, palaces, and natural places through all four seasons. Divided into sections thematically—Bravery, Rebellion, Justice, and Wonder—the stories vary in mood but never in the message of the importance of living with a “good and beautiful heart.” Squirrels grow up, little boys leave home to go to school, a greedy paper kite learns a valuable lesson, and the prophet Elijah rewards a good deed. The evil eye makes an appearance, and the moon longs for a friend. Chants of anti-war demonstrations to come uncannily appear when a little boy convinces a ruler to stop fighting, “that too much blood had been spilled—and that there could finally be an end to war.” The stories, seamlessly translated by a sizable team, are all a few pages in length and lend themselves to reading aloud and discussion. Readers both young and old will enjoy the introduction, which traces the Yiddish language and reveals that Shrek by William Steig, a favorite children’s story, translates as “Terrible.”
Yiddishkeit that is entertaining, meaningful, and very much still relevant. (introduction, glossary of untranslatable words, about the authors, about the translators) (Short stories. 9-12)