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IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE by Margot Zemach

IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE

A Yiddish Folk Tale

adapted by Margot Zemach ; illustrated by Margot Zemach

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
ISBN: 978-0-374-43636-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Remember the "poor unfortunate man" who feels crowded with his mother, wife, and six children in a little one-room hut—until the Rabbi instructs him to bring his chickens, goat, and cow inside as well?

Marilyn Hirsch did a picture book of the same tale in 1974, with less strength but more variation from page to page; Zemach's scenes—of cumulative chaos indoors, brown shacks from the outside, and the poor man's treks to and from the Rabbi—don't really overcome the story's essentially repetitive staging. But her familiar frowzy figures take on a sturdier cloddishness here, which gives all the squabbling kids, spilt soup, and flying feathers a becoming, down-to-earth vigor.

The more you look at Zemach's pages the more commotion there is to notice. And it's a good story, worth repeating.