Judaism’s long tradition of teaching through storytelling is affirmed in these eight tales steeped in ethics, morality and belief.
The fluidly told, extended narratives reflect mostly the Eastern European or Hasidic canon. Some will be familiar, as they appear in other collections or picture-book versions. Behavior and personal choice is the theme of the parable “The Prince Who Thought He Was a Rooster,” which was also seen in Ann Redisch Stampler and Eugene Yelchin’s The Rooster Prince of Breslov (2010). “Challah in the Ark” recalls Aubrey Davis and Dusan Petricic’s tale of generosity, Bagels from Benny (2003). And Debby Waldman’s 2009 version of Clever Rachel is echoed in the story of the same title, with its message of coupling kindness with intelligent cooperation. Others, such as “The Boy Who Prayed the Alphabet” and “Elijah’s Wisdom,” will be valued for their simple messages of heartfelt belief and justice based on proper action. The folkloric narrative style often employs the familiar European motif of “three,” delivering the plots with a patient tone and rabbinical perspective. The accompanying CD presents actress Debra Messing’s readings, her calm, mellifluous voice bringing out each story’s essence. Similarly, each tale’s tenor is individually enhanced through intrinsic borders and paintings created in watercolor ink, pastel, pencil crayon and digital layering.
A lovely collection that will inspire both discussion and contemplation.
(Folk tales. 10-14)