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and Other Tales of the Fools of Chelm

by Steve Sanfield & illustrated by Mikhail Magaril

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-531-05958-8
Publisher: Orchard

The author of The Adventures of High John the Conqueror (1989) turns to his Jewish heritage for an entertaining collection of nonsense stories, organized into a sort of history of Chelm and an introduction to its foolish residents. Sanfield weaves tales of varying length into a continuous narrative, divided into sections centered on people or local institutions. He begins with a cordial invitation (``ENJOY! We'll talk later'') and ends with an ``Afterword'' about the stories' personal meaning for him and his bittersweet visit to Eastern Europe to research them. Written in an informally discursive style, the stories themselves vary from anecdote to fully realized folktale, all melded into a satisfying whole. Magaril, a Russian illustrator whose work will be new to Americans, uses pen drawings in a bold, sophisticated, woodcut-like style that preserves the folkloric feel. A satisfying accompaniment to I. B. Singer's fine stories about Chelm. Glossary; excellent bibliography. (Folklore. 8+)