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A Folk Tale from the Brothers Grimm

by Doris Orgel & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1246-0
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

This retelling of the folktale by the Brothers Grimm is fairly faithful to the original, though the doctor’s wife has been replaced by a daughter and his name has been sweetened, not particularly happily, from Crabb to Crayfish. But the satirical bite of the story—doctors don’t necessarily know everything and their effectiveness relies as much on chance as experience or wisdom—retains its teeth. Nor has anything been added that would compromise the tightness of the tale’s joints, or its quick-footedness. The watercolor artwork satisfactorily dilutes any extra sugar. Boiger conveys a good sense of being in old Europe, but the characters really take the cake. Each is true to his or her circumstance: Crabb and his daughter have a famished, tattered look, the rich man is by turns wheedling and superior, the original doctor is smugly corpulent and the thieving servants are a pack of cowards. Orgel’s text unfolds simply and with exquisite pacing, retaining the orality of its folk origins. An entertaining as well as thought-provoking read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)