STRUDEL, STRUDEL, STRUDEL

A tale about Chelm—a town celebrated in Jewish folklore for the legendary idiocy of its inhabitants. Zaynul, a poor teacher, and Zeitel, his wife, decide to save money to buy the ingredients for apple strudel—each agrees to deposit a zloty a week into a trunk. But when after a few months they open the trunk, it turns out (in a kind of inversion of O. Henry's ``The Gift of the Magi'') that neither of them has put in any money, each counting on the other's contributions. They start arguing and fall into the trunk. The lid shuts, the trunk rolls out of their house, and, in the climactic scene of the story, down the hill—crashing through everything, with a crowd following—into the middle of the marketplace, where it comes to a stop. After the incident, the Wise Men of Chelm pass a law regarding teachers, trunks, and apple strudel. The narration and dialogue have many colorful details—some funnier than others. On the whole, the story is written in such a way that, were it read out loud, an Eastern European accent would not sound inappropriate. The best thing about this book are Lisker's oils (one per page of text). Recalling Chagall's painting of shtetl life, they combine brightness and softness and a floating perspective, and depict a world of little houses, bald men with big beards, women with kerchiefs, cows and goats, chickens and dogs. These pictures are suffused with loving warmth; it's impossible not to linger over them. A uniquely funny book. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-06879-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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UNICORN WINGS

The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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SKELETON HICCUPS

Who hasn’t shared the aggravation of a whole day’s worth of bone-rattling hiccups? Poor Skeleton wakes up with a deadly case that he can’t shake, and it’s up to his friend Ghost to think of something to scare them away. Cuyler (Stop, Drop, and Roll, 2001, etc.) cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton’s day, from shower to ball-playing. Home folk remedies (holding his breath, eating sugar) don’t seem to work, but Ghost applies a new perspective startling enough to unhinge listeners and Skeleton alike. While the concept is clever, it’s Schindler’s (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) paintings, done with gouache, ink, and watercolor, that carry the day, showing Skeleton’s own unique problems—water pours out of his hollow eyes when he drinks it upside down, his teeth spin out of his head when he brushes them—that make a joke of the circumstances. Oversized spreads open the scene to read-aloud audiences, but hold intimate details for sharp eyes—monster slippers, sugar streaming through the hollow body. For all the hiccupping, this outing has a quiet feel not up to the standards of some of Cuyler’s earlier books, but the right audience will enjoy its fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84770-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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