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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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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